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The FBI conducted a sting operation on Huawei during CES

By Shawn Knight · 9 replies
Feb 5, 2019
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  1. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a sting operation on Huawei during CES in response to concerns that the Chinese tech giant may have broken US export laws and stolen intellectual property from a Chicago start-up.

    Akhan Semiconductor founder and CEO Adam Khan developed a product called Miraj Diamond Glass that he claims is six times stronger and 10 times more scratch resistant than Gorilla Glass, the industry leader in mobile cover glass.

    Akhan was interested in licensing the glass to a large smartphone manufacturer and sent a sample to Huawei on March 26, 2018. Huawei agreed to return the sample within 60 days and not to test using methods that would damage the sample, standard protocol in the industry meant to make it harder for a sample to be reverse-engineered.

    The sample wasn’t returned until August 2 and when it was opened, Akhan found the four-inch square piece of glass was broken in two with multiple shards missing. The sample was well packaged and thus, couldn’t have been damaged during shipping (that also wouldn’t explain why pieces were missing). Concerned, Akhan reached out to the FBI.

    After studying the sample, the FBI’s gemologist concluded that Huawei had blasted the sample with a 100-kilowatt laser, one that was powerful enough to be used as a weapon. Furthermore, the sample had been shipped to China, potentially in violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations which governs the export of materials that can be used for defense (in this case, the diamond coating on the cover glass).

    The FBI took an immediate interest in the case and went so far as to recruit Khan and Carl Shurboff, Akhan’s chief operations officer, to conduct a sting operation against Huawei at CES. The two men wore recording devices while meeting with Huawei executives who, at one point, wondered aloud whether the US government was monitoring the meeting.

    A few weeks later, the FBI raided a Huawei facility in San Diego. Khan and Shurboff have been instructed not to have any further contact with Huawei.

    FBI image courtesy Marija Stojkovic via Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,157   +624

    If the US Govt thinks the sample was shipped to China as a violation of ITAR, the Khan and Carl Shurboff weren't so much as 'recruited' as 'given an offer to avoid jail time'.
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,698   +2,065

    I would not be so sure of that. It seems that Huawei has offices in the US, and if the sample was sent to a US address by Khan and Shurboff, they would not have had control over it after it arrived there. Someone within that US office of Huawei may well have sent it somewhere it should not have been sent.

    In addition, it sounds like Huawei agreed up-front to some pretty specific conditions as to how the sample was to be handled which were subsequently violated by Huawei. Even if it were some US firm that had received the sample and violated the terms for handling the sample, Khan and Shurboff would have been well within their rights and smart, IMO, to have contacted the FBI.

    If, on the other hand, Khan and Shurboff sent it to an address in China, then that is a different story and yes, they would likely be facing some sort of charges.
    Clamyboy74 and Godel like this.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,877

    Besides why would they reach out to the FBI, if they had knowingly broken laws. Recruitment over prosecution makes more sense.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,134   +3,559

    LOL ..... once a crook, always a crook!
  6. poohbear

    poohbear TS Maniac Posts: 264   +171

    I heard similar stories over and over and over when I was working in Korea from 2008-2015. The Chinese just constantly copy intellectual property and they don't understand the concept of copyright infringement. Copying something for them, is like doing the work. They will go out of their way to emphasize that they worked hard at copying something, so what's the problem if they worked "hard" at copying it?
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,877

    This is why we need our own production. Making patents and then having to rely on other countries for contracts. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong? We are not self sufficient and never will be, as long as we continue to import everything. If the Chinese wants to copy our things fine let them. But don't get pissed when we continue to support their practices on a daily basis.
    Deevo324 likes this.
  8. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,157   +624

    Export control is the responsibility of the exporter, and they mailed a product to a Chinese company - and any disclosure of any information to any international person is defined as an "export" by international. Regardless of mailing address, regardless that the company is Chinese, its your responsibility to make sure you are not committing an unauthorized export. This means working with the company you want to mail a technical document or sample to, to make sure this item won't be exposed to a foreign citizen.

    They could have sent it to the local "mom & pop" shop that has a big old "proudly made in America" stamp on all their products, and they would still need to do their due-diligence on EXIM, ITAR, and EAR to make sure that no unauthorized foreign nationals would be handling it (say, as a material handler, assembler, or engineer).

    Mailing it straight to China though, without going through the proper import/export channels? They definitely were given a "choice", and only got one to begin with because it sounds like this glass wasn't something made using govt. money.
  9. netman

    netman TS Addict Posts: 244   +63

    So, what did FBI find in San Diego?! Nada?

    The whole thing appears to be a false flag!
  10. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,157   +624

    Found the Chinese bot.
    Godel likes this.

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