This comes to us from the FBI's very newsy website.
Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Bank Fraud, and Theft of Trade Secrets Among Nearly Two Dozen Charges Announced Against Huawei
Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturing giant Huawei Technologies Co., LTD has been charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and theft of trade secrets, among other crimes, in indictments unsealed today by United States Attorneys Offices in the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Washington.
“The charges unsealed today are the result of years of investigative work conducted by the FBI and our law enforcement partners,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said today at a Department of Justice press conference announcing the indictments. “Both sets of charges expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace.”
The Eastern District of New York charged Huawei, two of its affiliates, and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzou with 13 counts surrounding the company’s misrepresentations to the U.S. government and four financial institutions regarding its business in Iran. The indictment charges that the company used financial institutions operating in the United States to process transactions involving millions of dollars in furtherance of Huawei’s Iran-based business. These transactions and the company’s false statements about them violated U.S. laws, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The additional 10 charges out of Washington state alleged that employees at Huawei Device Co. and Huawei Device USA, Inc. worked to steal the details of an innovative and proprietary tool built by T-Mobile to test the performance of new mobile phones prior to launch. According to the indictment, Huawei employees who were granted limited access to T-Mobile’s Tappy Robot System stole information about the technology in violation of nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements, and then sought to cover up their actions.
“The FBI does not—and will not—tolerate businesses that violate our laws, obstruct our justice, and jeopardize our national security.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray
Wray said the company’s intentional and systematic efforts to steal valuable intellectual property were designed to “circumvent hard-earned, time-consuming research and gain an unfair market advantage.”
Wray expressed his gratitude to the FBI personnel who were instrumental in building the case and to partners at the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security. He also recognized efforts by Canadian law enforcement officials.
“These cases make clear,” Wray stressed, “that, as a country, we must consider carefully the risk that companies like Huawei pose if we allow them into our telecommunications infrastructure. The FBI does not—and will not—tolerate businesses that violate our laws, obstruct our justice, and jeopardize our national security.”
And this is the US Department of Justice's statement.
Chinese Telecommunications Device Manufacturer and its U.S. Affiliate Indicted for Theft of Trade Secrets, Wire Fraud, and Obstruction Of Justice
A 10-count indictment unsealed today in the Western District of Washington State charges Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device Co. USA with theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice. The indictment, returned by a grand jury on January 16, details Huawei’s efforts to steal trade secrets from Bellevue, Washington based T-Mobile USA and then obstruct justice when T-Mobile threatened to sue Huawei in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The alleged conduct described in the indictment occurred from 2012 to 2014, and includes an internal Huawei announcement that the company was offering bonuses to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from other companies.
“Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes” Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker said. “As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law. I’d like to thank the many dedicated criminal investigators from several different federal agencies who contributed to this investigation and the Department of Justice attorneys who are moving the prosecution efforts forward. They are helping us uphold the rule of law with integrity.”
“The charges unsealed today clearly allege that Huawei intentionally conspired to steal the intellectual property of an American company in an attempt to undermine the free and fair global marketplace,” said FBI Director Wray. “To the detriment of American ingenuity, Huawei continually disregarded the laws of the United States in the hopes of gaining an unfair economic advantage. As the volume of these charges prove, the FBI will not tolerate corrupt businesses that violate the laws that allow American companies and the United States to thrive.”
“This indictment shines a bright light on Huawei’s flagrant abuse of the law – especially its efforts to steal valuable intellectual property from T-Mobile to gain unfair advantage in the global marketplace,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington. “We look forward to presenting the evidence of Huawei’s crimes in a court of law, and proving our case beyond a reasonable doubt. Fair competition and respect for the rule of law is essential to the functioning of our international economic system.”
According to the indictment, in 2012 Huawei began a concerted effort to steal information on a T-Mobile phone-testing robot dubbed “Tappy.” In an effort to build their own robot to test phones before they were shipped to T-Mobile and other wireless carriers, Huawei engineers violated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with T-Mobile by secretly taking photos of “Tappy,” taking measurements of parts of the robot, and in one instance, stealing a piece of the robot so that the Huawei engineers in China could try to replicate it. After T-Mobile discovered and interrupted these criminal activities, and then threatened to sue, Huawei produced a report falsely claiming that the theft was the work of rogue actors within the company and not a concerted effort by Huawei corporate entities in the United States and China. As emails obtained in the course of the investigation reveal, the conspiracy to steal secrets from T-Mobile was a company-wide effort involving many engineers and employees within the two charged companies.
As part of its investigation, FBI obtained emails revealing that in July 2013, Huawei offered bonuses to employees based on the value of information they stole from other companies around the world, and provided to Huawei via an encrypted email address.
Under the maximum sentencing provisions applicable to corporate entities, Conspiracy and Attempt to Commit Trade Secret Theft are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000,000 or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, whichever is greater. Wire Fraud and Obstruction of Justice are punishable by a fine of up to $500,000.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd Greenberg and Thomas Woods of the Western District of Washington, with assistance from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran has been recused from this matter because of legal representations he undertook before he joined the Department of Justice. Per direction from ethics officials in the Department of Justice, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes will act as U.S. Attorney with respect to this matter pursuant to the authority conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515.