By Agence France-Presse
The US Justice Department on Monday unveiled sweeping charges against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in two cases likely to ratchet up tensions between the two superpowers -- including that of a top executive arrested in Canada on a US warrant.
Acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker (2nd L) -- flanked by (L-R) Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray -- announce charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
The department unveiled 13 charges against Huawei Technologies, its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou -- the daughter of the company's founder who is currently out on bail in Canada -- and two affiliates related to violating US sanctions on Iran.
Meng's case has sparked a major crisis between Beijing and Ottawa, which is accused of doing Washington’s bidding.
In addition, 10 US federal charges were filed against two Huawei affiliates for stealing robot technology from T-Mobile.
"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," said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Meng -- who was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 at Washington's request -- is expected to fight extradition to the United States, amid heavy pressure on Canada from Beijing, whose subsequent detention of two Canadians is seen as an act of retaliation for Meng's arrest.
Acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said the extradition request would be sent by a January 30 deadline.
A hearing is set for February 6 in Canada.
Whitaker said there was nothing in the indictment that alleged Chinese government involvement in either case.
However, he added, "As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law."
The broader allegations against Meng, filed in federal court in New York, had already been revealed in general terms by Canadian authorities.
They allege that between 2007 and 2017, Meng, Huawei and the subsidiaries sought to mask their business with Iran in violation of US and UN sanctions on the country.
Meng in particular "repeatedly lied" to bankers about the relationships between the companies, especially with Skycom, a Huawei affiliate in Iran, according to the charges.
That violated US laws, the Justice Department said, because the Iran business involved US-dollar transactions processed by banks through the United States.
Huawei and the affiliates also lied to US authorities, obstructing the investigation, they said.