Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Huawei CFO Tied to Company Implicated in Attempted Sale to Iran

huawei_380Someone working for a partner of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei was certainly eager to sell a bunch of Hewlett-Packard networking gear to a wireless phone provider in Iran.

Such a sale would of course be illegal under U.S.-imposed trade sanctions against that country. A report from Reuters says that didn’t appear to stop an executive connected to a Huawei partner company, Hong Kong-based Skycom, from trying anyway.

Reuters says Huawei’s CFO, Cathy Meng, daughter of Huawei’s founding CEO, Ren Zhengfei, sat on Skycom’s board for a little more than a year, ending in 2009. Skycom, which Huawei has previously described as a “major partner,” was apparently the entity through which the proposed sale was to take place, though no deal was ever done. And HP, for its part, was never involved in any of it.

Huawei says Skycom is a “normal business partner,” and requires all its partners to stick to its trade compliance system.

Huawei’s operations in Iran over the years have been part of the litany of complaints leveled against the company in a congressional report earlier this year. The other worry is that Huawei gear might be used in some way to spy on American companies and government agencies. A review of the company ordered by the Obama administration found no evidence of spying, but didn’t exactly allay any of those fears, either.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik