HUAWEI just can't catch a break right now, and whatever happens now, this story doesn't paint the troubled Chinese tech firm in a great light.
Whilst CES was going on, the FBI was in attendance, mounting a sting on the company as part of the many ongoing cases against accusations of industrial fraud.
Here's a brief synopsis how it went down.
One of the aspects of CES, as a trade-only show, is that companies can meet up and forge partnerships. In this case, a start-up from the US called Akhan Semiconductor, which makes a form of glass which they claim is many times stronger than Gorilla Glass.
In 2017, Akhan sent samples to Huawei in China, which were returned late and damaged, despite being packed with a plastic case and surrounded by airbags. Akhan, suspecting that Huawei may have tried to reverse engineer the samples, brought in the FBI, who began monitoring communications between the two companies.
So, one cold January day, Akhan and the FBI went to Vegas, armed with hidden cameras and microphones, and set to work as a reporter from Bloomberg watched as an impartial observer from a safe distance (and FBI - if you're listening, keep us in mind for future stings, we'd love that).
The loan of the sample was made under strict rules - that it not be tampered with, that it be returned promptly and that it didn't leave the US. During the sting, recorded on tape, a Huawei executive admitted that the company had broken the agreement by exporting the sample, and whilst there's no admission of the reverse engineering aspect, it will be interesting to see if Huawei unveils a new sort of glass for the P30 and foldable expected to launch in the coming weeks.
The sting was not apparently connected to the 23 federal charges against Huawei that were filed recently, but rather serve to illustrate the point that, whatever else Huawei has or hasn't done, its business ethics in this matter don't paint it in a very good light. In fact it's a bit like using black paint to touch up Darth Vader's mask, in a blackout, in a black hole. That's pretty bad light right there.
Huawei has repeatedly refused to comment. μ
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