WASHINGTON - A U.S. House intelligence committee report warning that two Chinese networking companies are posing security risks to the country also includes allegations of job bias and visa fraud at one of the firms, Huawei Technologies.
The report, released Monday by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, charges that some foreign Huawei employees used used visitor rather than work visas and that the company engaged in "widespread discriminatory behavior."
Some Huawei employees told investigators "that non-Chinese nationals are often laid-off only to be replaced by individuals on short-term visas from China."
The report also alleges that it was "very difficult, if not impossible for any non-Chinese national to be promoted in Huawei offices in the United States."
It also claims that only Chinese nationals working at Huawei in the United States could participate in a company stock plan.
The report, in sum, offers a catalog of complaints voiced by current and former employees, including allegations of fraud and bribery when Huawei sought contracts in the U.S.
The committee is referring the various allegations to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Justice Department, and other "appropriate agencies."
The report may just be just the first pitch in a legal obstacle course for Huawei and the the other company cited, ZTE.
The thrust of the intelligence committee report concerns security risks to the U.S. from Chinese networking gear, and says that the U.S. "should view with suspicion the penetration of the U.S. telecommunications market" by Chinese companies.
This report advised private sector firms to consider "long-term security risks" associated with the use of either ZTE or Huawei equipment. But beyond the security issues are allegations of visa fraud.
Congressional investigators, in the report, said Huawei employees "provided credible evidence" about violations of immigration law. Numerous workers said "that that Huawei employees visiting from China on tourist or conference visas are actually working fulltime at Huawei facilities," they added.
Although the report does not name the visas, it is likely describing the B-1 visitor visa.
The B-1 visa has limited uses, such as for conference travel and negotiations. Foreign nationals requiring a temporary work visa use an H-1B or an L-1 document.
The former and current employees who provided this information were unnamed in the report.
Huawei was asked to comment by email on the immigration allegations, but responded with a statement that broadly addressed the report, contending that it "employs many rumors and speculations to prove non-existent accusations."
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected].
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