The Justice Department on Thursday ratcheted up its battle with Huawei Technologies Co. by bringing new criminal charges alleging the Chinese telecom company set up shell corporations to skirt U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
“Huawei assisted the government of Iran by installing surveillance equipment, including surveillance equipment to monitor, identify, and detain protestors during the anti-government demonstrations of 2009 in Tehran,” federal prosecutors in Brooklyn wrote.
They also maintain Huawei violated U.S. law by employing at least one citizen in Iran.
Separately, the indictment alleges that Huawei has been involved in numerous projects in North Korea since 2008 and concealed their involvement by removing their logo from items shipped to the country.
Prosecutors also said Huawei mislead authorities who processed the company’s shipping transactions so they were unaware of its North Korean projects.
The 16-count superseding indictment charges Huawei with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiring to steal intellectual property from six U.S. technology companies.
Huawei executives and four subsidiaries were also charged in the indictment.
The superseding indictment Huawei entered into confidentiality agreements with U.S. technology companies to steal their trade secrets and grow the company.
Huawei and its subsidiaries “agreed to reinvestment the proceeds of this alleged racketeering activity in Huawei’s worldwide business, including in the United States,” prosecutors wrote.
Copyrighted source codes, user manuals for internet routers, antenna technology and robot testing technology were among the intellectual property Huawei is accused of pilfering.
In January 2019, the Justice Department charged Huawei with money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of justice and sanctions violations.
In a bipartisan statement, the top two lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee praised the Justice Department for brining new charges against Huawei.
“The indictment paints a damning portrait of an illegitimate organization that lacks any regard for the law. Intellectual property theft, corporate sabotage, and market manipulation are part of Huawei’s core ethos and reflected in every aspect of how it conducts business,” said Chairman Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner Virginia Democrat.
Huawei’s unlawful business practices are a threat to fair and open markets, as well as to legitimate competition in a tech space that is critical for the global economy,” the statement continued.
Another member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, also praised the Justice Department’s ramping up its efforts against Huawei.
“Huawei is an arm of the Chinese Communist Party, and the Department of Justice ought to nail Chairman Xi’s tech puppet to the wall,” Mr. Sasse said. “These crimes — racketeering conspiracy to steal trade secrets, and sanctions evasion — are all part of Chairman Xi’s strategy to make China the world’s preeminent superpower. The United States and our allies have an obligation to stop them.”