Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei scrambled to conceal ties to Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech Co, which purportedly supplied Iran with banned American computer equipment in 2013, Reuters reported, citing obtained documents allegedly belonging to the two companies.
The documents, a set of memos, letters and agreements purportedly belonging to Huawei and Skycom, show that the Chinese giant was trying to sever formal ties with Skycom, while maintaining control over it, Reuters says.
"Huawei took a series of actions - including changing the managers of Skycom, shutting down Skycom’s Tehran office and forming another business in Iran to take over tens of millions of dollars worth of Skycom contracts", the news agency claims, citing the papers.
One of the obtained documents allegedly shows how Huawei appointed its own employee, Hu Mei, as Skycom’s general manager in Iran while severing official ties with Skycom in March 2013 - long before the US pressed charges of violating the embargo and before the international community lifted sanctions from Iran in 2015. The alleged internal communications justified the move as required to "urgently avoid the risks of media hype".
In addition, Huawei appointed Song Kai, a deputy representative of Skycom’s Iran office, as it allegedly needed a man present in the country, unlike Hu Mei, Reuters claims.
The news agency insists that the gears were set in motion on hiding the ties between the two companies after two news pieces by Reuters itself, published not long before. These publications raised questions in some of the banks, serving the accounts of both Huawei and Skycom. According to Reuters, Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was convincing one of the banks, HSBC, that Skycom was only "a business partner of Huawei" and was not linked to it in any way, let alone a direct subsidiary.
According to another document obtained by Reuters later in 2013, Skycom annulled and terminated all contracts with Iranian telecommunication companies, while transferring its clients, to a Huawei department called Huawei Technologies Service (Iranian) Co Ltd. The news agency claims the deal was closed under the terms of confidentiality on parts of all parties involved.
Huawei has declined to comment on the Reuters report.
Threat of Huawei CFO's Extradition to US
One of the top managers of the Chinese company, Wanzhou was arrested in 2018 in Canada following accusations by Washington that she deceived the banks about the nature of Huawei's relations with Skycom, which purportedly violated US sanctions against Iran, calling it an independent partner. Washington believes the Hong Kong-based firm was an "unofficial subsidiary" of the Chinese giant.
Huawei denies accusations and insists that they are part of US efforts to remove competition on the telecommunications market. Despite the company's appeal that the US accusations do not constitute a crime in Canada, the country's court last week ruled to continue reviewing the case of Wanzhou's extradition to the United States.