The federal crimes are linked to a 2013 incident in which Huawei allegedly stole trade secrets about a robot named "Tappy" that was built by T-Mobile and used in testing smartphones. US prosecutors are also alleging that the company committed bank fraud by violating sanctions against doing business with Iran.
The DOJ's announcement covered charges listed in a 13-count indictment in Brooklyn, New York, regarding the company's dealings with Iran, and a second 10-count indictment filed in Washington State that covers the Huawei's alleged offenses against T-Mobile. Charges listed in the Washington State indictment against Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device Co. USA include theft of trade secrets, conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice.
Behaviors cited by prosecutors in the T-Mobile case indicate that offenses took place from 2012 to 2014, and that Huawei in July 2013 sent out an internal email that "was offering bonuses to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from other companies."
"The charges unsealed today clearly allege that Huawei intentionally conspired to steal the intellectual property of an American company in an attempt to undermine the free and fair global marketplace," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
"To the detriment of American ingenuity, Huawei continually disregarded the laws of the United States in the hopes of gaining an unfair economic advantage. As the volume of these charges prove, the FBI will not tolerate corrupt businesses that violate the laws that allow American companies and the United States to thrive."
In the New York indictment, prosecutors noted that Huawei used its affiliate, Skycom Tech Co. Ltd., to bypass sanctions placed against Iran. The indictment charges Huawei, Huawei Device USA Inc., Skycom and Meng with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
"They willfully conducted millions of dollars in transactions that were in direct violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and such behavior will not be tolerated," Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.
"The Department of Homeland Security is focused on preventing nefarious actors from accessing or manipulating our financial system, and we will ensure that legitimate economic activity is not exploited by our adversaries."
Meng was arrested in early December 2018 by Canadian authorities at the request of the US over allegations that she had committed fraud in sidestepping sanctions. Despite China's protest, US prosecutors are now seeking the CFO's extradition to the US.