HK firm Skycom accused of helping Huawei

SAN FRANCISCO • Skycom Tech, a little-known Hong Kong telecoms equipment seller, has been thrust into the global limelight, with Canadian prosecutors saying it played a central role in helping Huawei Technologies evade US sanctions against Iran.

"Huawei used an unofficial subsidiary named Skycom to transact business in Iran for Iranian telecommunication companies," Crown attorney John Gibb-Carsley alleged last Friday in a Vancouver courtroom.

The US alleges that Huawei's chief financial officer, Ms Meng Wanzhou, hid ties between Huawei and Skycom, according to Mr Gibb-Carsley.

Canada was presenting the case against Ms Meng on behalf of the United States, which wants to extradite her.

Ms Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Dec 1 at the behest of the US authorities, and last Friday, was facing charges of conspiracy to defraud banks.

A decision on bail was not reached, and the case continues tomorrow.

Skycom was part of Huawei's company in Iran that worked on a contract with mobile operator MTN Irancell Telecommunications Services, according to a former employee who asked not to be identified discussing the private matter.

Skycom contracts in Iran were in the local rial currency, whereas Huawei contracts were in US dollars, the person said.

In the past, Huawei sold telecoms equipment to MTN Irancell, Bloomberg has reported.

Skycom was dissolved last year, according to Hong Kong filings.

Skycom employees worked for Huawei, the US alleged.

Ms Meng was said to have been a director of Skycom at one point, Reuters reported in 2013.

Another director of Skycom, Ms Hu Mei, appeared to have a Huawei e-mail address and was listed in that company's employee directory, Reuters reported.

Skycom tried to sell €1.3 million (S$2 million) worth of Hewlett-Packard computer gear in late 2010, according to Reuters.

Former employees of Skycom have said that the firm was not distinct from Huawei, and that Skycom employees had Huawei e-mail addresses and badges, according to a Canadian court filing.

Documents obtained through an investigation by the US authorities show that multiple Skycom bank accounts were controlled by Huawei employees, the filing said.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 09, 2018, with the headline 'HK firm Skycom accused of helping Huawei'. Print Edition | Subscribe