- Reuters has obtained new documents showing that Huawei has shipped banned U.S. equipment to Iran.
- The equipment included hardware and software from companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.
- The documents reinforce American allegations against the company that it violated sanctions against Iran.
- Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.
Chinese company Huawei Technologies, which for years denied violating US trade sanctions against Iran, produced internal company documents in 2010 that show it was directly involved in sending IT equipment American banned the largest Iranian mobile operator.
Two Huawei packing lists, dated December 2010, included computer hardware manufactured by Hewlett-Packard Co for the Iranian carrier, according to internal Huawei documents examined by Reuters.
Another document from Huawei, dated two months later, said: “Currently, the equipment is being delivered to Tehran and awaiting customs clearance.”
The packing lists and other internal documents first reported here provide the strongest documentary evidence to date of Huawei’s involvement in alleged trade sanction violations. They could reinforce Washington’s multifaceted campaign to verify the power of Huawei, the world’s leading manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.
The United States is trying to persuade its allies to avoid using Huawei equipment in their next generation mobile telecommunications systems, known as 5G. In addition, the American authorities are fighting against Huawei on the legal level.
The newly obtained documents involve a multi-million dollar telecommunications project in Iran that features prominently in an ongoing criminal case that Washington has launched against the Chinese company and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. The daughter of Huawei founder Meng has been fighting extradition from Canada to the United States since her arrest in Vancouver in December 2018. Huawei and Meng have denied the charges, which involve bank fraud, wire fraud and other allegations.
The documents, which are not cited in the criminal case, provide new details about Huawei’s role in supplying an Iranian telecommunications operator with numerous computer servers, switches and other equipment manufactured by HP, as well as manufactured software. by other American companies at the time. , including Microsoft Corp, Symantec Corp and Novell Inc.
An American indictment alleges that Huawei and Meng participated in a fraudulent scheme to obtain American products and technologies banned for Huawei’s activities in Iran and to move money out of Iran by deceiving Western banks. The indictment accuses Huawei and Meng of surreptitiously using an “unofficial subsidiary” in Iran called Skycom Tech Co Ltd to obtain the prohibited goods.
“Huawei could thus attempt to claim ignorance of any illegal act committed by Skycom on behalf of Huawei, including violations of” US sanctions laws “, according to the indictment. Skycom, that Huawei described as a local business partner in Iran, is named a defendant, and files in Hong Kong, where Skycom was registered, show that the company was liquidated in June 2017.
New documents obtained examined by Reuters show that another Chinese company, Panda International Information Technology Co, which is not named in the American indictment, was also involved in the acquisition of hardware and software for the Iranian project. Panda International has long-standing ties to Huawei and is controlled by a Chinese state-owned company. Last year, the Washington Post obtained documents showing that Huawei and Panda International had worked together to develop North Korea’s commercial wireless network.
“Due to the ongoing legal proceedings, it is not appropriate for Huawei to comment at this time,” said a spokesman for Huawei in response to questions about the newly obtained documents. “Huawei undertakes to comply with all laws and regulations applicable in the countries and regions in which we operate, including all laws and regulations relating to export controls and sanctions of the United Nations, the United States and the EU. “
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “the United States, without presenting any evidence, has over-generalized the concept of national security and abused its state power to unreasonably suppress certain Chinese companies.” He referred questions about the Huawei documents to the company.
The US indictment cites articles from Reuters in 2012 and 2013 which indicated that Skycom had offered in late 2010 to sell at least 1.3 million euros of HP computer equipment under embargo to Mobile Telecommunication Co of Iran. The Iranian mobile provider is known as MCI and MCCI.
MCI’s parent company is Telecommunication Co of Iran. At the time, TCI was controlled by a consortium, the largest stakeholder of which was a company controlled by the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Another stakeholder, Setad, was controlled by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Earlier Reuters reports were based on a partial price list included in a proposal from Huawei and Skycom in October 2010 to extend MCI’s customer billing system. Huawei had supplied MCI’s original billing system, which did not keep pace with MCI’s growing customer base. The price list was marked with the Huawei logo and stamped “SKYCOM IRAN OFFICE”.
At the time, Huawei said it had never delivered HP products to Iran in the end. A Huawei spokesperson told Reuters in 2012 that the price list was a “tender dossier” submitted by Skycom and that “Huawei never supplied the equipment […] nor done via Skycom. “
But the newly obtained documents – more than 100 additional pages linked to the project – show that Huawei was involved in sending at least some of this American equipment to Iran. Documents are written in various ways in English, Chinese and Persian.
An internal document showed that Huawei was deeply involved in the MCI expansion project. It indicates that on September 25, 2010, MCI asked Huawei to start the project. “The equipment contract has been signed,” said the document, without giving details.
The documents also include a “quantity quote,” a 2010 proposal that lists the equipment needed for the project. It was produced by Huawei and includes HP equipment, as well as server software manufactured at the time by Microsoft, Symantec and Novell.
The documents also include two packing lists dated December 7 and December 13, 2010, with the Huawei logo at the top. The name Huawei also appears in the metadata of the lists – computer information on the creation of documents.
The packing lists, which include certain prohibited HP equipment, provided detailed details of 340 shipping cases, such as weights and sizes, with final destinations in the main Iranian cities of Tehran, Shiraz and Mashhad.
The packing lists include many HP servers, switches, and disk arrays, as well as Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000 software.
Not for Sale”
Reuters did not have access to other transport records, such as customs and delivery forms, specifying which equipment has reached MCI. But a subsequent document from Huawei said that the equipment for the telecommunications expansion project had arrived in Iran.
MCI did not respond to a request for comment.
A Hewlett Packard Enterprise spokesperson said, “Our contractual terms prohibited the sale of these products to Iran and required our partners to comply with all applicable export laws and regulations. This remains true today. today. “
Microsoft did not respond to questions about the legality of shipping its server software to Iran. Symantec, now called NortonLifeLock Inc, declined to comment. The current owner of the Novell software did not respond to a request for comment.
Some of the new documents obtained suggest that Huawei may have used Panda International to purchase hardware and software.
The records include an equipment contract signed between MCI and Panda International which included more than $ 10 million in equipment for the billing system project, although it does not specify all of the equipment. According to the contract, which refers to an invoice from September 2010, MCI was to pay Panda International through the branch of China Construction Bank in the city of Shenzhen – the location of Huawei’s headquarters.
Panda International is controlled by China Electronics Corp, a Chinese state-owned technology company. According to the Panda International website, Panda has a “long and deep history with Huawei” which began in 2007.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Huawei regularly uses Panda International to ship equipment to customers in Iran and Syria.
Panda International, China Electronics and China Construction Bank did not respond to requests for comment.
In 2014, the United States Department of Commerce added Panda International to its “list of entities” – a list of companies prohibited from doing business with American companies. The department said Panda International may have tried to “export items to US sanctioned destinations”.
Documents reviewed by Reuters show that Huawei was involved in the equipment contract between Panda International and MCI.
A letter from MCI to Huawei with a handwritten date in July 2011 reported a series of problems with the installation of HP racks and other equipment in Shiraz related to the contract with Panda International.
Two years later, a joint letter signed by officials from Huawei and MCI in October 2013 confirmed that “the problems and shortcomings” of the equipment contract “have been resolved by Huawei”.