Shenzhen, China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd has confirmed that its offices in France were searched by officials last week, amid a financial investigation.

CNN reported that the Chinese tech giant had confirmed the office raid, and said it was fully co-operating with the French authorities.

Huawei French offices were reportedly raided by investigators from the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, on Tuesday 6 February.

Office raid

A French judicial source told CNN last week that the raid had been carried out as part of a preliminary probe launched by the financial prosecutor’s office over alleged “breach of probity,” a broad term concerning alleged offences such as acts of corruption, favouritism and influence peddling.

The source did not provide any further details about the investigation.

And a preliminary investigation does not imply any wrongdoing, CNN noted.

“Huawei has been in France for over 20 years, and has been in compliance with the laws and regulations applicable in the country,” a Huawei spokesperson told CNN.

“While Huawei France does not wish to comment on an ongoing investigation, the company remains confident about its conclusions,” the spokesperson reportedly said.

5G equipment

In recent years Huawei has come under tremendous pressure from Western countries, over national security concerns with its 5G equipment – Huawei has always denied it is a national security risk.

Huawei 5G equipment was banned in a number of European countries, and the firm continues to face strict export controls for advanced tech from the United States.

In 2020 the French government told telecoms providers they would not be able to renew licences for Huawei 5G equipment once they expire, effectively banning the equipment.

But after meeting with French economy minister Bruno Le Maire in Beijing in July of that year, China’s vice-premier He Lifeng said France would extend Huawei 5G licences in some cities.

Also in 2020 Huawei said it would build a factory in France making wireless communications equipment, with a €200 million ($215 million) investment. It said the French factory would manufacture €1 billion ($1.08 billion) worth of products annually.

In December 2023 Huawei began construction of the delayed €200 million (£172m) plant in the Alsace region of France – its first overseas factory.

Huawei has said the plant intends to begin manufacturing 5G equipment in 2025.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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