The US Justice Department has charged Chinese tech giant Huawei, two of its subsidiaries and a top executive, who are accused of misleading banks about the company’s business and violating US sanctions.
The company is also charged in a separate case with stealing trade secrets from US telecom T-Mobile, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors are seeking to extradite the company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, and allege she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
She was arrested on December 1 in Canada.
The criminal charges in Brooklyn and Seattle come as trade talks between China and the US are scheduled for this week.
“As I told high-level Chinese law enforcement officials in August-we need more law enforcement co-operation with China,” Acting Attorney-General Matt Whitaker said at a news conference.
“China should be concerned about criminal activities by Chinese companies-and China should take action.”
US prosecutors allege Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of US sanctions.
Huawei had done business in Iran through a Hong Kong company called Skycom and Meng misled US banks into believing the two companies were separate, according to the Justice Department.
The announcement overnight includes a 10-count grand jury indictment in Seattle and a separate 13-count case from prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York.
“As you can tell from the number and magnitude of the charges, Huawei and its senior executives repeatedly refused to respect US law and standard international business practices,” FBI Director Chris Wray said.
A Huawei spokesman did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.
Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies and has long been seen as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services.
Prosecutors also allege Huawei stole trade secrets, including the technology behind a robotic device that T-Mobile used to test smartphones, prosecutors said.
A jury in Seattle ruled that Huawei had misappropriated the robotic technology from T-Mobile’s lab in Washington state.
The Huawei case has set off a diplomatic spat with the three nations, which has threatened to complicate ties between the US and Canada.
The arrest of Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder at Vancouver’s airport, has in particular led to the worst relations between Canada and China since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
Meng is out on bail in Vancouver as she awaits extradition proceedings to begin.