China’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer got hit with criminal charges on Monday in connection to a “long-running” global financial scheme involving the Iranians, bank fraud, corporate espionage — and a robot named “Tappy,” according to DOJ officials.

The charges come just two days before the Trump administration plans to resume trade talks with the Chinese government in Washington. Federal prosecutors insist, however, that they are simply “law enforcement actions and are wholly separate” from the negotiations.

The Justice Department handed down two separate indictments on Monday in Brooklyn and Washington state, accusing China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, of numerous crimes — including trade theft, wire fraud and violations of US sanctions on Iran.

Huawei was also accused of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile — robotic technology that tests smartphones, known as Tappy.”

Prosecutors say the company also stole trade secrets from T-Mobile.

“Our evidence includes numerous emails between Huawei USA and Huawei China over a period of months showing a determined and unrelenting effort to obtain T-Mobile technology — in this case, a robot nicknamed Tappy that T-Mobile used to test mobile phones,” explained First Assistant US Attorney Annette L. Hayes, of the Western District of Washington. “Huawei wanted to build its own robot and rather than engineer its own device, decided to steal T-Mobile’s technology.”

According to Hayes, “Huawei entities snuck into the Tappy lab” and “directed employees to take photographs, take measurements…and finally…when all this still did not get what they were looking for, they tried to steal Tappy’s robotic arm.” Huawei allegedly did this because it wanted its manufacturers in China to replicate it, Hayes said.

The other defendants named in the indictments include Huawei USA Inc. and a Hong Kong-based shell company called Skycom — which allegedly did business with Iran.

Meng is accused of tricking US banks into believing that Skycom and Huawei weren’t connected, when “in reality” Huawei sold Skycom to itself, according to prosecutors.

“By claiming that Skycom was a separate company — and not an affiliate which Huawei controlled — Huawei allegedly asserted that all of its Iran business was in compliance with American sanctions,” explained Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. “These alleged false claims led banks to do business with the company and, therefore, to unknowingly violate our laws. One bank facilitated more than $100 million worth of Skycom transactions through the United States and in just four years.”

DOJ officials said they are looking to extradite Meng to the US to face trial. She is currently in Canada after being detained in December at the request of the Trump administration.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here