The United States has filed criminal charges against Huawei, escalating its fight against the Chinese tech giant and potentially complicating efforts by Washington and Beijing to negotiate an end to their bruising trade war.
The Justice Department on Monday unsealed two cases against Huawei that detail a slew of allegations. One indictment accuses Huawei of trying to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile (TMUS), and of promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information on competitors. A second indictment claims the company worked to skirt US sanctions on Iran.
The agency also revealed formal charges against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer. Meng was arrested in Canada in December, and the United States is looking to extradite her.
“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 Whitaker said in a statement. “China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a press conference that Huawei “relied on dishonest business practices that contradict the economic principles that have allowed American companies and the United States to thrive.”
“The prosperity that drives our economic security is inherently linked to our national security,” Wray said. “And the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations like Huawei represents a threat to both.”
Huawei said Tuesday it was “disappointed” by the US move to bring charges against it.
“The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of US law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion,” it said in a statement.