Huawei logo in front of EU flag

Czech Republic bars Huawei from tax portal tender

Image credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

According to reports, the Czech finance ministry has amended a tender for a new tax portal to exclude companies subject to warnings by the national cyber-security agency.

Huawei – the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment – has faced growing international scrutiny, largely with regards to its alleged role as an earpiece for the Chinese government. The Shenzhen-based company has recently been blocked from involvement in major projects in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, while in the UK BT has started to remove existing Huawei devices from its 4G infrastructure.

The Czech Republic has become the latest country to impose restrictions on Huawei in light of security concerns.

According to a report in Czech daily paper Mlada Fronta Dnes spotted by Reuters, the finance ministry has amended a tender for a new tax portal worth 500 million crowns ($17m), in which Huawei had been seen as a favoured contender. The tax portal will be used for filing tax returns.

The finance ministry has said that the tender would not allow “producers that are subject to a current warning by the NUKIB”, the Czech cyber-security agency. In December, the agency designated Huawei and fellow Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE as security threats, warning network operators and other organisations not to use software or hardware manufactured by the companies.

Operators of crucial infrastructure are not outright banned from using Huawei products, but are advised to conduct a thorough risk analysis, meaning that Huawei could still be involved with the construction of the Czech Republic’s 5G mobile infrastructure. Huawei had previously signed a deal on testing 5G technologies with PPF, which controls multiple Czech and other Central European network providers.

However, Huawei – as a subject of a NUKIB warning – will be barred from bidding for a contract to build the Czech tax portal.

“A warning from [NUKIB] is by law binding for the Financial Administration and we are obligated to carry it out,” a spokesperson for the general financial directorate of the finance ministry said.

Earlier this week, US prosecutors unveiled 23 indictments against Huawei, its subsidiaries and its CFO Meng Wanzhou; the indictments include violating trade sanctions against Iran, bank fraud and theft of trade secrets from T-Mobile. Meng – who had been arrested in Canada in December – appeared in court yesterday, as US prosecutors formally requested her extradition.

The Huawei row, coupled with the ongoing US-China trade war, is becoming an increasingly labyrinthine problem for many companies and industries and is casting a shadow over the future of 5G in key territories.

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