The Chinese electronics giant Huawei offered bonuses to its employees for stealing confidential information from outside companies, according to an indictment of the company on fraud charges issued Monday by the US Department of Justice.
Emails obtained during the American investigation allegedly show that the stealing of trade secrets was a concerted effort by one of the world's leading smartphone makers, Huawei, as employees were offered bonuses based on the value of the information they stole.
In December, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested during a stopover in Canada on allegations of violating trade sanctions with Iran. Huawei has been at the centre of growing trade tensions between the US and China, as US lawmakers worry that the company works with the government of China to undermine American business. Huawei has long denied such charges.
On Monday, the US Department of Justice named Huawei and Wanzhou as national security threats, and announced that it had indicted the company, the exec, and two affiliates with bank and wire fraud, and charged Huawei with crimes including theft of intellectual property.
The indictment alleges in part that Huawei stole information pertaining to robotic technology used for testing smartphones from a T-Mobile facility in Washington.
According to the indictment, Huawei employees violated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with T-Mobile beginning in 2012 when its employees took photos, gathered measurements, and even stole a piece of T-Mobile's testing robot, dubbed "Tappy." The stolen information was sent back to Huawei by the employees through an encrypted email address, according to the indictment.
When T-Mobile originally discovered that its trade secrets were allegedly being compromised and raised concerns, Huawei claimed the employees involved in the theft were working as "rogue actors," the indictment alleges. Huawei has said that it settled its differences with T-Mobile in 2017.
Late Monday evening, a Huawei spokesperson told Business Insider: "The Company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the U.S. courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion."
The US Department of Justice did not responded to Business Insider's request for comment on Monday night.
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