US prosecutors in a high-profile case against Huawei Technologies are seeking to disqualify the company’s lead lawyer, saying he has a conflict of interest stemming from his former role as second-in-command at the Justice Department.
James M Cole should be excluded from the Chinese smart-phone maker’s defense team because he had access to classified investigations that appear to be connected to Huawei during his four-year tenure under then-Attorney General Eric Holder, prosecutors said in a heavily-redacted memo. He has refused to recuse himself from the case despite having an “obvious conflict of interest” that would give him an unfair advantage, according to the filing in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
Cole is defending Huawei and a US affiliate against charges that they defrauded at least four banks by concealing business dealings in Iran in violation of US sanctions.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, who is also charged in the case, remains free on bail in Vancouver while she fights extradition to the US.
Cole, as a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, has been representing Huawei since at least April 2017, when the US. served subpoenas upon the company during its investigation, according to prosecutors. He met with Brooklyn prosecutors to discuss the Huawei probe and met them again in January.