US authorities seek removal of Huawei lawyer in Iranian sanctions busting case, but don’t disclose reasons
US federal prosecutors are attempting to disqualify Huawei’s lead defence lawyer in the case against the Chinese firm for alleged bank fraud and sanctioning busting with Iran.
But Huawei Technologies was quoted by Reuters as saying it will “vigorously oppose” the sealed motion, which does not make public as to why US authorities are seeking his removal.
The defence lawyer in question is James Cole, and he was a US deputy attorney general, within the US Justice Department between 2011 and 2015. This is within the timeframe when the US was gathering information on how Huawei might have been doing business in Iran in violation of US sanctions.
A public version of the sealed motion is expected to be released by 10 May, so the reasoning of the US authorities may become clearer then.
Cole is now a partner at law firm Sidley Austin in Washington, and he has reportedly declined to comment publicly on the matter.
But Huawei told Reuters in an emailed statement that it chose Jim Cole as its lawyer in 2017.
“We have seen no facts from the government that would justify disqualifying him and denying Huawei its constitutional rights. Huawei will vigorously oppose the government’s motion,” the Chinese firm reportedly said.
Cole had entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the company and its US subsidiary in mid March, in a US District Court in Brooklyn.
Huawei, along with its CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in early December by Canadian authorities, deny US indictments that they broke internationals sanctions against Iran and carried out bank and wire fraud.
Wanzhou is due in court in Vancouver again on 8 May.
Huawei in March sued the US government over a ban on the use of its telecoms products, in efforts to push back against what it says are baseless US allegations against the firm.
Essentially, the United States is accusing both Wanzhou and Huawei of conspiring to defraud HSBC and other banks by misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with Skycom Tech Co Ltd, an alleged front company that operated in Iran.
Huawei has always said that Skycom was a local business partner, but the US believes it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei’s business in Iran.
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