American justice has further increased the pressure on the Chinese supplier Huawei on Thursday, again charged while the fate of the heiress of the group, under house arrest in Canada, remains uncertain.
Brooklyn federal prosecutor Richard Donoghue has charged the telecoms giant with theft of trade secrets and circumvention of sanctions against North Korea, charges in addition to the prosecution for breaching U.S. sanctions against Iran launched in early 2019.
The telecoms giant has qualified these new accusations of"Unfounded and unjust"accusing US prosecutors of wanting to "Irrevocably harm the reputation and activities of Huawei, for reasons related to competition rather than respect for the law".
"This is only the repackaging of civil charges almost 20 years ago, which have never been used to justify any substantial penalty against Huawei", added the group in a press release.
Indicted on the first indictment, Huawei's chief financial officer and daughter of the group's founder, Meng Wanzhou, currently under house arrest in the Vancouver area, remains cited in the new indictment, without being accused of further embezzlement.
More than a year after his arrest, in December 2018, Canadian justice has still not ruled on his extradition requested by the United States. A spokesman for the Brooklyn federal prosecutor declined to tell AFP if the new charge could increase the likelihood of extradition.
The world's largest telecom equipment supplier, Huawei has been implicated, against the backdrop of the trade war between the United States and China, by the Trump government, which highlights the risk of espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.
The United States has called on many countries not to use Huawei infrastructure for the deployment of the new 5G telephone network.
They also placed the Chinese group on a black list in May 2019, forcing de facto American companies and residents of the United States to find other suppliers for their telecommunications equipment.
Acknowledging, however, that in some American rural areas the alternatives were difficult to find, the Trump administration had to grant Huawei a temporary license to allow American companies to find other suppliers.
This temporary license, extended for the first time by 90 days in November, was further extended by 45 days on Thursday, which makes it run until April 1.
According to attorney Richard Donoghue, Huawei and several of its subsidiaries engaged in the theft of trade secrets between 2000 and 2020.
The equipment supplier is notably accused of having attempted to recruit employees of American telecommunications companies, obtaining technological information from them in the process.
These data allowed him to develop products similar to those of his competitors, marketed at lower selling prices, according to the indictment revealed Thursday.
Among the examples cited in this new document: at a trade show in Chicago in 2004, a Huawei employee was discovered, in the middle of the night, taking photos of a competitor's computer server, which he had dismantled.
Senior engineer in research and development
The Chinese equipment supplier then maintained that the individual, who wore a badge on which was written "Weihua", was a junior employee who went to the show on his own initiative, although his CV mentions that he was a senior engineer in research and development.
In 2013, Huawei even launched, according to the prosecution, an internal program offering bonuses to employees who obtain trade secrets from competitors.
In the indictment filed Thursday, the prosecutor also claims that Huawei took part in "Many telecommunication projects" in North Korea. A leader had however affirmed in 2012, under oath, before an American parliamentary commission, that Huawei had no activities in this country.
Five companies charged
The new indictment includes a total of 16 charges, including 3 new ones. Huawei pleaded not guilty to the first 13 counts in March.
A total of five companies are charged, all subsidiaries of Huawei, as well as Meng Wanzhou and other group leaders, "Who have not yet been arrested" and whose names were redacted in the indictment.
In a separate proceeding, two subsidiaries – Huawei Device USA and Huawei Device Ltd – were also charged in late January 2019, in Washington state (west), with a criminal association for the purpose of stealing trade secrets.
They pleaded not guilty in late February 2019 before a federal judge in Seattle (northwest). Their trial is scheduled to start on October 19.
New Huawei charge in New York for theft of trade secretsOuest-France.fr