It seems that Vodafone may have saved themselves just in time, pausing deployment of Huawei-made tech. The US Government of bank fraud has decided to press charges against the telecoms giant for stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile and using them for their own financial gain.
Huawei, the fourth biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world, has long been suspected of passing sensitive information back to the Chinese government. However, there has never been any concrete proof that this is the case. These allegations imply that the US government has some hard evidence against Huawei.
The charges specifically relate to Tappy, a robot arm that replicated human fingers on a touchscreen. Tappy is a T-Mobile internal product is used for testing smartphones, so it’s obvious why a company such as Huawei would be interested in getting their hands on the technology behind it. Huawei is accused of having employees take photos of the robot, measure it, and even taking one of the robots for analysis. Court documents released by the Department of Justice show that the company had repeatedly requested that employees send information about the arm back to China, despite Huawei’s claims that any theft was the work of rogue employees. Such was Huawei’s desperation that a committee was set up to review info sent by employees and reward the employees who submitted the most valuable info.
Hilariously, Huawei tried to cover this fiasco up by publishing a 23-page “Investigation Report”, which was designed to mislead readers. In essence, it was damage control. The report stated that the “rogue employees” had since had their contracts terminated and that Huawei China received very few emails from them.
What’s potentially more serious, however, is the allegations of fraud against Huawei. The US government filed a second case against Huawei, accusing them of fraud, using a subsidiary company as a cover-up. The premise was that they could an Iranian-based subsidiary company named Skycom to obtain otherwise-prohibited US goods. Huawei said publicly that Skycom was just a business partner. If anyone raised questions they could simply claim ignorance with respect to any illegal acts committed by Skycom. The fraud claims stem from the fact that Huawei intentionally misled US authorities and multiple unnamed financial institutions by saying that they were conducting legal business in Iran, when in reality the business was illegal.
These allegations could spell disaster for Huawei, whose woes have gotten worse and worse in recent months. German authorities are considering banning them from providing 5G equipment in Germany, and Vodafone has paused deployment of Huawei-made technology here in Ireland. These allegations appear to have been a long time coming, and if even half of what the company is accused of is true, we may see them fall out of relevance in the coming years. Consumer trust is going to be destroyed.