Jan 28, 2019 - Technology

DOJ charges Huawei CFO with violating Iran trade sanctions

Protesters carrying sign reading "Free Ms. Meng" outside courthouse

Meng Wanzhou supporters outside BC Supreme Court. Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Monday it has brought charges against Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese electronics giant Huawei, related to violating trade sanctions against Iran. A second case announced today involves charges against individuals affiliated with Huawei for stealing intellectual property related to robotics.

Why it matters: The indictment of Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, is only one chapter in a book-long series of international disruptions of one of China's biggest businesses. Huawei is currently dealing with international bans on its 5G equipment over potential espionage concerns and recently had a employee arrested in Poland for espionage.

Meng, alongside Huawei and its U.S. subsidiary, is accused of attempting to circumvent sanctions in 2007 by lying about its ownership of the Iranian business Skycom and later lying about selling its interest in Skycom. Huawei is also accused of making false statements to Congress about the deal.

The robotics charge involves a case in which Huawei is accused of stealing the technology and even a physical piece of a T-Mobile robot called "Tappy" that's used to test phones.

China hasn't taken the campaign against Huawei lying down. Canadian authorities arrested Meng and are currently in the legal process of extraditing her to the United States. A number of Canadian citizens were subsequently arrested in China, and in one case, potential penalties in an earlier case were increased to the death penalty, which Ottawa believes is retaliatory.

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