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HUAWEI theft allegations include bonus program for stealing from competitors, more

Allegedly, if a HUAWEI employee stole information from a competitor, they earned financial bonuses. Now HUAWEI is refuting those claims.

Published onFebruary 19, 2019


Update, 26 February 2019: HUAWEI initially provided Android Authority with a statement denying the claims outlined below, but later asked that it be taken down as it was not the correct denial for the story described. We obliged and awaited the correct statement, presumably still denying the claims. It has now been a week and HUAWEI has now told us “HUAWEI can’t comment on pending litigation.” Make of that what you will.

Original article, February 19 2019: A new bombshell report from The Information about HUAWEI theft in the mobile industry includes some stunning allegations, including that Huawei financially compensated employees if they delivered confidential secrets from competitors.

According to the United States Department of Justice, this HUAWEI bonus program wasn’t necessarily a secret. There is or was an internal company website where employees were encouraged to post stolen information, as well as a company email address employees could message instead. The content of the internal site and the email address were reviewed by something called the “competition management group.”

Depending on the quality of the stolen information and the level of confidentiality related to that information, the employee who sourced it could receive a bonus. The more lucrative and/or confidential the stolen information is, the higher the bonus.

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HUAWEI assured employees that they wouldn’t face disciplinary action for sharing any stolen competitor secrets.

We reached out to HUAWEI about these allegations but didn’t receive word back by press time.

Recently, the FBI conducted a sting operation against HUAWEI related to the alleged attempted theft of intellectual property from a company in the U.S. developing a new kind of smartphone glass. Employees of the U.S. company wore body mics during a meeting with HUAWEI, where HUAWEI allegedly made brazen attempts to obtain secret info and also allegedly admitted to violating U.S. trade laws.

If these allegations are true, it could put even more scrutiny upon HUAWEI's business practices.

Elsewhere in The Information article, allegations are made that HUAWEI sets up phony business meetings with suppliers for competitors. These meetings are arranged under the pretense of offering exclusive contracts with HUAWEI but are allegedly a front for attempting to obtain confidential information about other companies.

In one case, HUAWEI allegedly arranged a meeting with a company involved in supplying technology for Apple related to the heart rate monitor in the Apple Watch. Although the meeting was supposed to be about an exclusive manufacturing contract, all the HUAWEI employees asked about was the Apple Watch. According to an executive at the supplier company, the employees at the meeting didn’t disclose any information related to its partnership with Apple.

Read this detailed description of an FBI sting on HUAWEI during CES 2019

After this meeting, HUAWEI allegedly stopped contacting the supplier, with no more discussion about the supposed exclusive contract.

HUAWEI also allegedly sets up employment interviews with former Apple staff. However, instead of a job interview, HUAWEI reps grill the supposed recruit with questions about Apple products and practices. One anonymous person who went through this process said, “It was clear they were more interested in trying to learn about Apple than they were in hiring me.”

Although HUAWEI has been in the news the past few months due to its alleged ties to the Chinese government, these stories of alleged thefts and sneaky practices to undermine competitors are also fairly commonplace. However, it does seem that HUAWEI has not toned down these alleged practices even as they have become more readily apparent to the public worldwide.

NEXT: UK security experts seemingly not as worried about HUAWEI as those in US