Huawei reportedly helped North Korea build its wireless network


Ren Zhengfei, CEO of Huawei speaking with CNBC at Huawei headquaters in Shenzhen, China.

Justin Solomon | CNBC

Huawei worked with the North Korean government to build and maintain a commercial wireless network, The Washington Post reported based on familiar sources and internal documents.

The documents show that Huawei partnered with Chinese state-owned firm Panda International Information Technology on several projects over eight years, according to the Post, though it is unclear what role Huawei played. The Post said it obtained work orders, contracts and spreadsheets from people who believed they would be of public interest, including a former Huawei employee.

Huawei did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment, but told the Post in a statement that it “has no business presence” in North Korea. Panda Electronics Group, the parent company of Panda International, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new revelation could add additional speculation to a company that is already in hot water with the U.S. government. The U.S. banned a wide swath of sales to the company earlier this year, citing national security concerns, thought it later softened the terms.

Tech executives from Huawei suppliers like Intel, Qualcomm and Google are meeting with White House officials Monday to discuss the Huawei ban.

In January, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer in two separate cases. The Justice Department alleged in one case that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile. In another case, the DOJ alleged CFO Meng Wanzhou violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by doing business with U.S-sanctioned Iran, among other charges.

The Commerce Department has previously investigated Huawei’s ties to North Korea. In 2016, The New York Times reported the department issued a subpoena for information on the export of American tech to several sanctioned countries including North Korea. The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The Post reported that the 2016 probe remains active, although the department has not publicly connected Huawei and North Korea.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

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