Criminal investigation being held by USA against Huawei: WSJ report

US federal authorities in Seattle are investigating Huawei Technologies for allegedly stealing trade secrets from US companies including T-Mobile US, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported one area of investigation is the technology behind a device United States firm T-Mobile used for testing smartphones.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

This time, however, the US Department of Justice' investigation isn't focusing on some grand national security threat but on the Huawei's repeated theft of trade secrets from US companies.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been pushing European allies to block Huawei from telecom networks amid a wider dispute over trade with China.

Jinhua, which has denied any wrongdoing, was put on a list of entities that can not buy goods from USA firms.

"Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) introduced the bipartisan Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act (H.R. 7255) to direct the President to impose denial orders banning the export of United States parts and components to Chinese telecommunications companies that are in violation of USA export control or sanctions laws", the release said on Wednesday. The two companies were specifically mentioned because they were anxious that Huawei and ZTE's network switches were used to monitor the United States.

"Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and chief executive officer was an engineer for the People's Liberation Army", said Republican Senator Tom Cotton, one of the bill's sponsors.

"Huawei and ZTE's actions to systematically undermine USA and allied cybersecurity show that Beijing does not wish to be part of the rules based system, but rather to break it", Gallego added. In November, the USA government began ratcheting up pressure on allies to ban Huawei network hardware from their telecommunications systems over espionage concerns.

If Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei violate U.S. regulations, they should be sanctioned.

The move would further escalate tensions between the USA and China after the arrest past year in Canada of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company's founder. T-Mobile claimed in its filing related to the civil suit, that Huawei employees started asking T-Mobile about "Tappy", with some of the questions related to proprietary technology used to create the robot.

The WSJ said the investigation stems in part from a lawsuit that telecoms company T-Mobile brought against Huawei in 2014.

  • Wendy Palmer