Chinese tech giant Huawei and its detained Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou have been charged for a host of criminal charges that includes bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology by the US Justice Department. This move has been described as "unjustified repression" by Beijing.
There is a 13-count indictment filed on Monday against Huawei in NewYork with two affiliates and Meng detailed allegations of bank and wire fraud. According to a US media report, Huawei has also been charged with violating Washington's sanctions on Iran and conspiring to obstruct justice related to the investigation.
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Followed with this move, both Huawei and Meng have denied the allegations. Chances are that this case could ratchet up tensions between US and China that would impact Huawei's global expansion efforts.
US acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement, "We are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes".
"The criminal activity in this indictment goes back 10 years and goes all the way to the top of the company. China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law," he was cited as saying by the New York Times.
Followed with the criminal complaint filed by the US Justice Department against Huawei and Meng who was arrested in Canada on 1st December at the request of the US for supposedly evading sanctions on Iran, the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry said it was very "concerned" about the entire issue.
Meng is out on bail but her travel is confined to Vancouver and its surrounding areas. If found guilty, she could face up to 30 years on all counts.
The Canadian Justice Department on Monday said that it had received a formal request for Meng's extradition to the US to stand trial, despite Chinas regular pressure on Canada to release her.
"The US government and China have an extremely complex, multifaceted relationship. Our client, Sabrina Meng, should not be a pawn or a hostage in this relationship," said Huawei attorney Reid Weingarten.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: "For some time, the US has used its government power to discredit and crack down on specific Chinese companies in an attempt to stifle their legitimate operations."
"We strongly urge the US to stop the unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies, including Huawei, and treat them objectively and fairly".
According to the issue, Huawei misled the US and a global bank about its relationship with two subsidiaries, Huawei Device USA and Skycom Tech, to conduct business with Iran, as the Trump administration had reinstated all sanctions on Iran removed under a 2015 nuclear deal with even stricter measures that includes oil exports, shipping as well as banks.
In another case, Huawei has been accused of stealing technology from T-Mobile USA used to test smartphone durability, as well as obstructing justice and committing wire fraud.
"These charges lay bare Huawei's alleged blatant disregard for the laws of our country and standard global business practices," said Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray.
The charges came as the two countries' leaders seek to end their months-long trade dispute, with China's lead trade negotiator, Liu He, scheduled to meet US officials in Washington in coming days.