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TOPIC: John Brumby quits Huawei

John Brumby quits Huawei 2 weeks 3 days ago #4273

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www.smh.com.au/by/richard-baker-hve6o

Brumby quits Huawei board days after US criminal charges outlined

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By Richard Baker & Nick McKenzie
1 February 2019 — 11:32am

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Former Victorian premier John Brumby has resigned from the board of Huawei’s Australian operations in a damaging blow to the Chinese technology giant just days after the US government outlined a criminal case against it.

Mr Brumby’s decision to quit comes two days after The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive at the centre of the alleged global criminal conspiracy, established and oversaw the company’s activities in Australia between 2005 and 2011.
Former Victorian premier John Brumby.

Former Victorian premier John Brumby.Credit:Paul Jeffers

The former Labor politician’s future at Huawei Technologies (Australia) has been under a cloud since June, after he announced he was reviewing all his directorships upon assuming the role of Chancellor of Melbourne’s La Trobe University.

This week’s release of an indictment against Huawei and key executives by the US Justice Department has increased interest in Mr Brumby's position on the company's board.
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Mr Brumby said on Friday that the timing of his resignation, which will be effective from next month, was unrelated to the scandal enveloping the company.

He said he had informed the board a year ago of his intention to resign and was proud of the firm’s local growth.

‘‘We have had some challenging times ... Huawei Australia has continued to go from strength to strength.’’

Ms Wanzhou is alleged by the US to have been a key player in a conspiracy to defraud international banks and US officials about the company’s Iran operations. The criminal case against Huawei also involves allegations it stole trade secrets from rival T-Mobile.

Though there is no suggestion that Ms Wanzhou was engaged in any criminal activity in Australia, the US Department of Justice case against her and the company includes the period of time she was overseeing Huawei’s corporate governance and strategy in Australia.

The December arrest of Ms Wanzhou in Canada at the request of the US government triggered a strong response from Beijing, with two Canadian citizens and Chinese-born Australian writer Yang Hengjun detained in China.
Mr Brumby will become Chancellor of La Trobe University in March.

Mr Brumby will become Chancellor of La Trobe University in March.

Ms Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the Chinese military.

Mr Brumby joined the Huawei board in Australia in 2011 shortly before the departure of Ms Wanzhou. Former foreign minister Alexander Downer and former Navy rear-admiral John Lord were also appointed to the Huawei board in an effort by the company to build political and defence credibility.

The high-profile Australian trio have been outspoken in defending Huawei against criticism from Australia and the US, whose respective intelligence agencies fear the company could be vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party to spy on or sabotage data and phone networks.

Mr Brumby, Mr Lord and, until his 2014 appointment as Australia’s high commissioner to the UK, Mr Downer, have all previously pointed out that there has been no hard evidence produced anywhere to show Huawei was involved in espionage activities on behalf of the Chinese government.

The company has made a priority of ensuring its Australian directors have been looked after well at home and abroad. It is understood some Australian-based directors have been paid as much as $250,000 a year, though Huawei has declined to confirm this.

Despite its high-powered Australian board, Huawei has been prevented by successive Australian governments from participating in the NBN rollout and the 5G mobile network, with security agencies warning against the involvement of the Chinese firm.

Australia’s hard line position on Huawei has emboldened other western allies to restrict the Chinese company’s involvement in sensitive infrastructure.

In a statement released in the wake of the US charges, Huawei said it was disappointed to learn of the charges and believed the US courts would find no evidence Ms Meng or the company breached US laws.

More to come

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National security
NBN
5G Rollout
John Brumby
Meng Wanzhou
Huawei
China

Richard Baker
Richard Baker

Richard Baker is a multi-award winning investigative reporter for The Age.
Nick McKenzie
Nick McKenzie

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Nick McKenzie is an investigative reporter for The Age. He's won seven Walkley awards and covers politics, business, foreign affairs and defence, human rights issues, the criminal justice system and social affairs.
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