SEATTLE (CN) – Attorneys for Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets and a raft of other charges related to a robot cellular provider T-Mobile uses to test its products.
The initial court proceedings come one day before Canada decides whether to start extradition proceedings against Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who faces fraud charges in the United States.
Federal prosecutors unsealed indictments in Seattle and Brooklyn, New York, last month alleging the company violated Iran trade sanctions and stole trade secrets.
The Seattle indictment says Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device USA Inc. stole details about a robot nicknamed “Tappy” that T-Mobile uses to test its phones.
Huawei then prepared a false report when confronted by T-Mobile, claiming the theft was the work of rogue employees rather than a company-wide effort, according to the indictment.
Huawei could face as much as $5 million in fines and five years of probation if convicted of the charges in the Washington state indictment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg said at the arraignment before Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez.
Greenberg and Huawei attorneys Robert H. Westinghouse, James F. Hibey and Brian M. Heberlig asked Martinez to postpone the start of the Seattle trial until March 2, 2020.
“This case is more complex than many that come before the court,” Greenberg said.
The Brooklyn indictment alleges Wanzhou lied to banks to trick them into processing transactions for Huawei that potentially violated Iran sanctions.
Wanzhou, who is the daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December and must remain in British Columbia until the court decides on extradition.
China retaliated by detaining two Canadians on national security violations and sentencing another Canadian to death for drug trafficking in China.
Wanzhou’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 6.