Sept. 24 (Reuters) – Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with U.S. prosecutors to end the bank fraud case against her, officials said on Friday, a move that should allow her to leave Canada and relieve a point of tension between China and the United States.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 under a US warrant and charged with banking and electronic fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC (HSBA.L) in 2013 about the relationship. telecommunications equipment giant in Iran. The bank questioned her following Reuters articles in 2012 and 2013 about these transactions.
His arrest sparked a political storm between the two countries and dragged Canada into the fray when China arrested a Canadian businessman and former diplomat shortly after Meng’s arrest.
In an exclusive Friday, Reuters reported that the United States had reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Meng. Nicole Boeckmann, the acting US lawyer in Brooklyn, said that in entering into the deal, “Meng assumed responsibility for his lead role in the commission of a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”
The deal only concerns Meng, and the US Department of Justice has said it is preparing for a lawsuit against Huawei and is eager to prove its case in court.
A Huawei spokeswoman declined to comment.
In a hearing in Brooklyn federal court on Friday, which Meng attended virtually from Canada, Assistant United States Attorney David Kessler said the government would dismiss the charges against her if she complied. to all of her obligations under the deal, which ends in December 2022. He added that Meng will be released on personal bail and that the United States plans to withdraw their extradition request to Canada.
Meng – the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – pleaded not guilty to the charges during the hearing. William Taylor III, an attorney representing Meng, said he was “very happy” with the deal, adding that “we expect the indictment to be dismissed with prejudice after fourteen months. Now she will be free to go home to be with her family. “
Beyond resolving a dispute between the United States and China, the deal could also pave the way for the release of the two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, detained in China. In August, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage. Read more
Meng, who also used the English first names “Cathy” and “Sabrina,” is confined to Vancouver and guarded 24/7 by private security that she pays as part of her bail agreement.
Articles published by Reuters in 2012 and 2013 about Huawei, Hong Kong-registered company Skycom and Meng featured prominently in the US criminal case against her. Reuters reported that Skycom had offered to sell at least 1.3 million euros of embargoed Hewlett-Packard IT equipment to Iran’s largest mobile operator in 2010. At least 13 pages of the proposal were marked ” Huawei Confidential ”and bore the Huawei logo.
Reuters also reported numerous financial and personal ties between Huawei and Skycom, including the fact that Meng served on Skycom’s board between February 2008 and April 2009. The stories prompted HSBC to ask Meng about the Reuters findings.
Huawei (HWT.UL) was placed on a U.S. commerce blacklist in 2019 which restricts sales to the company for activities contrary to national security and U.S. foreign policy interests. The restrictions hampered the company, which suffered its biggest drop in revenue in the first half of 2021, after U.S. supply restrictions pushed it to sell off some of its once-dominant handset business and before new ones. areas of growth have matured.
The criminal case against Meng and Huawei is cited in the blacklist. Huawei is accused of operating as a criminal enterprise, stealing trade secrets and defrauding financial institutions. He pleaded not guilty.
Court hearings in his Vancouver extradition case ended in August, with the date of the ruling due to be set for October 21. read more
A Canadian government official said Ottawa will not comment until the US court proceedings are completed. Kovrig’s wife declined to comment. Representatives for Spavor could not be reached immediately for comment.
CHINA VS UNITED STATES
Huawei has become a dirty word in Washington, with a knee-jerk reaction from Chinese hawks in Congress to any news that could be interpreted as the United States being soft despite Huawei’s struggles under trade restrictions.
Then-President Donald Trump politicized the case when he told Reuters shortly after his arrest in 2018 that he would step in if it served national security or helped secure a trade deal. Meng’s lawyers said she was a pawn in the political battle between the two superpowers.
Senior US officials have said Meng’s case is being handled only by the Justice Department and that the case has no bearing on the US approach to relations with China.
During US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s July trip to China, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng insisted the United States drop its extradition case against Meng.
U.S. officials acknowledged that Beijing linked Meng’s case to the case of the two detained Canadians, but insisted Washington would not be made to view them as bargaining chips.
Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Kenneth Li, Jonathan Stempel, David Shpardson and Michael Martina; edited by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin
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