U.S. says Huawei lawyer's prior work at Justice Department poses conflict

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

(Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Co Ltd lawyer James Cole’s prior work at the Department of Justice created a conflict of interest that should disqualify him from defending the Chinese company in a case over alleged bank fraud and sanctions violations, U.S. prosecutors said in a filing on Friday.

Last week, the prosecutors filed a motion to disqualify Cole, who served as deputy attorney general, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, between 2011 and 2015.

But the earlier motion was sealed and classified, and prosecutors did not make public the reasons behind the move.

“There is a ‘substantial risk’ that Cole could use ‘confidential factual information’ obtained while serving as DAG to ‘materially advance’ Huawei’s current defense strategy,” the prosecutors said, according to a redacted copy of the U.S. motion filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York.

Neither Cole nor Huawei immediately responded to requests for comment. Last week, Huawei said it would “vigorously oppose” Cole’s removal from the case.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Bill Rigby

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