Huawei, the China-based telecom equipment maker that has come under fire in the past for alleged links to Iran, is once again under the microscope.
Reuters today published a report detailing evidence linking Huawei CFO Cathy Meng to a firm that has allegedly tried to sell U.S. company products to Iran-based firms.
According to Reuters, Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, served on the board of a Hong Kong-based company called Skycom Tech between February 2008 and April 2009. In addition, Reuters found that a host of other people with varying ties to Skycom also appear to have Huawei e-mail addresses, indicating close ties between the firms.
Reuters reports that in late 2010, a Skycom office in Tehran attempted to sell nearly $2 million in Hewlett-Packard products to Mobile Telecommunication Co. of Iran, directly violating U.S. trade sanctions that prohibit the sale of American products to the country. The documents Reuters obtained apparently show an attempt to provide the equipment, although a sale never took place. The documents were labeled with the Huawei logo and marked "Huawei confidential," according to Reuters.
Huawei has been the subject of much debate in the U.S. over its alleged attempts in the past to sell embargoed American equipment to companies in Iran. In October, Reuters claimed to have discovered documents indicating that Huawei in early 2012 purchased cellular antenna equipment from a U.S.-based company, called Andrew LLC, and then through a partner in Iran, attempted to sell those products to a carrier in Iran.
Reuters' discovery of Skycom's attempted sale to Mobile Telecommunication Co. of Iran was first reported in December. The news outlet's latest report includes new details that help to illustrate Huawei's seemingly close ties to Skycom. In fact, Reuters came across a document from early 2010 in which credit report company International Company Profile listed Skycom as a "subsidiary of Huawei Technologies Corporation."
In an e-mailed statement to CNET, Huawei stopped short of saying Skycom was a subsidiary, but called its relationship with the company "a normal business partnership." Huawei also said it has a "trade compliance system which is in line with industry best practices and our business in Iran is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including those of the UN."
Here's the full statement:
The relationship between Huawei and Skycom is a normal business partnership. Huawei has established a trade compliance system which is in line with industry best practices and our business in Iran is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including those of the UN. We also require our partners, such as Skycom, to make the same commitments.
Huawei, along with its competitor ZTE, have been trying to establish a foothold in the U.S. Last year, however, the House Intelligence Committee accused both companies of threatening U.S. national security.
"U.S. network providers and systems developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects," the committee wrote in its 52-page report. "Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."
CNET has contacted Huawei for comment on the Reuters report. We will update this story when we have more information.