Fortinet, the US cybersecurity company picked by China-backed DITO Telecommunity as a tech partner in the Philippines, is involved in a fraudulent act in the United States.
US federal investigators bared that an unnamed Fortinet employee directed his or her underlings to change the company’s labels to suggest that Fortinet’s products were “designed” or “assembled” in the US.
Some of those products were distributed to resellers who sold them to US government agencies, violating the Trade Agreement Act. This federal law prohibits agencies from buying products in certain countries, notably China and India.
Prosecutors further said that Fortinet sold products with altered labels for more than seven years, from early 2009 to the fall of 2016. That year, a former employee inside Fortinet’s logistics department stepped forward and filed a whistleblower complaint against the company, claiming products were routinely altered before being sold.
Fortinet, which agreed to pay $400,000 in cash and give the US military $145,000 in equipment to settle claims it illegally sold Chinese-made equipment to the government, says it immediately launched an investigation and fired the person responsible for altering the company’s labels.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-Hsien urged the Taiwan government to ban the purchase of and remove information security and communications products manufactured in China by companies Fortinet and Zoom that have close relations with Beijing.
Citing the US probe on Fortinet, Lin added that if the company dared falsify labels on products sold to the US, there is no guarantee that it would not do the same with Taiwan.