15 Mar 2019

Huawei pleads not guilty to US charges in New York court

10:32 am on 15 March 2019

China's Huawei Technologies has pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment filed against the company in a New York federal court.

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Huawei Technologies has pleaded not guilty to charges of bank and wire fraud, violating sanctions against Iran and obstructing justice Photo: 123rf.com

Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, was charged with bank and wire fraud, violating sanctions against Iran and obstructing justice.

The company's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in December in Canada on charges in the indictment, which was not unsealed until January. She has said she is innocent of the charges and is fighting extradition.

At the arraignment in United States District Court in Brooklyn, James Cole, a US lawyer for Huawei, entered the plea on behalf of the company and its US subsidiary.

Ms Meng and Huawei are accused of conspiring to defraud HSBC and other banks by misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with Skycom Tech, a suspected front company that operated in Iran.

Huawei has said Skycom was a local business partner, while the US maintains it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei's Iran business.

Assistant US Attorney David Kessler said at the arraignment that prosecutors were in the process of serving Skycom with the charges, and that the company was not yet scheduled for an arraignment.

US authorities claim Huawei used Skycom to obtain embargoed US goods, technology and services in Iran, and to move money via the international banking system.

Reuters exclusively reported last month on how an internal HSBC probe helped lead to the US charges against Huawei and its CFO.

Last week, Reuters also detailed how US authorities secretly tracked Huawei's activities. American authorities collected information copied from electronic devices carried by Chinese telecom executives traveling through airports.

The indictment references reporting by Reuters from six years ago that Skycom offered to sell embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran's largest mobile phone operator. The reporting detailed links between Huawei and Skycom, including that Ms Meng had served on Skycom's board of directors between February 2008 and April 2009.

US President Donald Trump told Reuters in December that he would intervene in the case if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing. Ms Meng's lawyers have expressed concerns that she is a pawn or hostage and that the allegations have "a political character."

The next court date is set for 4 April.

- Reuters

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