Executives from Chinese telecommunications hardware Huawei and ZTE have been sentenced to ten years in jail in Algeria on charges of corruption.
ZTE’s Dong Tao and Chen Zhibo, and Huawei’s Xiao Chuhfa were all sentenced in absentia by an Algerian court on Wednesday morning, according to a report on French language news site, Le Soir D’Algerie.
The two companies have been banned from public sector contracts in the country and each fined 3 million Algerian dinar (£25,000).
The three Chinese executives were accused of paying a $10 million bribe to Mohamed Boukhari, a former executive at Algérie Télécom, via offshore accounts in Luxembourg.
Boukhari told the Algerian court that he used to work as a communications advisor to the CEO of Algeria Telecom, and to the Algerian Department of Telecommunications before that.
"I knew the leaders of the two Chinese companies in 2003, as part of my job," Le Soir reports Boukhari as saying, (translated via Google). "They invited me to a party, during which they offered to help by making prospective studies in the economic field. I accepted and I do not see how this is illegal. I had no decision making power to help them win contracts. I wanted a little extra money."
International arrests warrants have been issued for all three executives.
A ZTE spokesperson commented on the sentence, saying: "We are reviewing the local court’s decision and we don’t have any further comments for the time being."
“We take this matter very seriously and we are currently reviewing the court’s decision," Huawei said.
The news comes two months after Huawei was banned from Australia’s national broadband project over Australian national security concerns.