Chinese telecommunications manufacturing giant Huawei is once again in hot water over allegedly playing loose with trade sanctions. One of Huawei Technologies’ key Iranian partners reportedly offered to sell embargoed HP computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator in late 2010, according to documents unearthed by Reuters.
Huawei, which overtook Ericsson in August to become the world’s largest telecommunications maker, said that neither it nor its Iranian partner, a private company registered in Hong Kong, went through with the deal, which would have provided Mobile Telecommunication Co of Iran (MCI) with at least 1.3 billion euros worth of equipment. Though the deal did not go through, Reuters said “the incident provides new evidence of how Chinese companies have been willing to help Iran evade trade sanctions.”
At the beginning of 2012, U.S. lawmakers pushed the U.S. State Department to investigate Huawei’s reported sale of mobile phone tracking equipment to Iranian mobile phone operators, saying the Chinese company “appears to facilitate the Iranian government’s restriction of the speech of the Iranian people and the free flow of unbiased information in Iran.” Then in October, Huawei was criticized by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee for failing to “provide evidence to support its claims that it complies with all international sanctions or U.S. export laws.” The next month, Huawei denied that equipment it sold to MTN Irancell, Iran’s second largest mobile operator, would be used to aid in the monitor and censoring of dissidents.
Huawei’s problematic relationship with international and U.S. sanctions goes back more than a decade. An October 2003 New York Times article noted that Huawei had been accused of making deals with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq.
Huawei insisted that the most recent document uncovered by Reuters is a “bidding document” submitted by its partner Skycom Tech Ltd to MCI. Huawei’s statement to Reuters also said:
Huawei’s business in Iran is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including those of the U.N., U.S. and E.U. This commitment has been carried out and followed strictly by our company. Further, we also require our partners to follow the same commitment and strictly abide by the relevant laws and regulations.
HP told Reuters:
HP has an extensive control system in place to ensure our partners and resellers comply with all legal and regulatory requirements involving system security, global trade and customer privacy and the company’s relationship with Huawei is no different.