Huawei pleads not guilty to stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile

A trial has been set for March 2, 2020.

Huawei on Thursday pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trade secrets, conspiracy, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice, the US Justice Department has said. A trial has been set for March 2, 2020.

The federal charges are for an indictment against Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile. The alleged activity occurred during 2012-13, and relates to Huawei's attempts to build a robot similar to the one T-Mobile was using at the time to test mobile phones.

If found guilty, Huawei will be fined the greater amount of either $5 million, or three times the value of the stolen trade secret.

The company and its CFO Meng Wanzhou, also face a separate indictment in New York for allegedly breaching US sanctions on Iran. The United States have accused Huawei of misrepresenting its ownership and control status of Iran-affiliate Skycom to banks, which resulted in the company and the associated banks being involved in dealings that violated the sanctions.

An arraignment date has yet to be set for the second indictment.

Meng Wanzhou, who has been under house arrest in Vancouver since December, is currently facing a court battle in Canada that could see her be extradited to the United States for these charges. Her next court appearance is later this month.

The two indictments are among the various moves the United States have made to put pressure on Huawei. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned central European nations that deploying telecommunications equipment from Huawei would "[make] it more difficult for America to be present" in those countries.

A bipartisan Bill was also introduced in the United States in January that, if passed, would ban the export of US chips and other components to Huawei and its compatriot ZTE.  

Huawei's 5G tech equipment is currently banned or limited by the US and Australia, and South Korea's largest carrier has left Huawei off its vendor list.

Meanwhile, the UK's BT said it would be stripping Huawei from EE's mobile core, and New Zealand is still deciding whether it will ban Huawei equipment for its internet upgrades.

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