Huawei Is Target of U.S. Criminal Probe for Trade Secrets Theft

Ren Zhengfei

What just happened? Huawei's battle with the U.S. government is reportedly about to take a new turn, with federal prosecutors preparing a criminal indictment against the Chinese tech giant for stealing trade secrets from American partners.

T-Mobile sued Huawei four years ago claiming the company had stolen the technology, winning a $4.8m (£3.7m) payout in 2017. The probe is at an advanced stage and could lead to an indictment soon, they said.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's office in Seattle, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Huawei.

Van Hollen also offered a strong rebuke, saying that both Huawei and ZTE "have repeatedly violated US laws, represent a significant risk to American national security interests, and need to be held accountable". According to T-Mobile's original filing in the suit, "Huawei initially tried to cover up its actions but ultimately admitted that its employees misappropriated parts and information about T-Mobile's robot in coordination with Huawei R&D so that Huawei could build and improve its own testing robot".

In August, Donald Trump signed legislation banning government agencies from using services from Huawei and ZTE, among other Chinese entities. She is awaiting extradition hearings to the US while living under restrictions in her million-dollar Vancouver home.

Prohibiting any executive agency official from modifying any penalty imposed on Chinese telecommunications companies, their agents, or affiliates until the President certifies that the company has not violated USA laws for one year and is cooperating fully with USA investigations.

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The bills specifically cite ZTE and Huawei, both of which are viewed with suspicion in the United States because of fears that their switches and other gear could be used to spy on Americans.

Huawei holds an ever-growing share of the world's smartphone market and is a frontrunner in the race to develop next-generation wireless equipment, which critics say could enable Chinese spying efforts.

The Handelsblatt daily reported earlier that the German government was actively considering stricter security requirements and other ways to exclude Huawei from the buildout of 5G mobile networks. Last week, a company employee was arrested in Poland.

Huawei has always been suspected of benefitting from Chinese economic espionage and the forced transfer of technologies from foreign companies doing business in China.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, in a rare public appearance this week, said his company had never received a request from a government to transmit information in violation of any regulations. As part of the agreement, the USA lifted a ban in place since April that prevented ZTE from buying the US components it heavily relies on to make smartphones and other devices.

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