US ac­cuses Huawei CFO of Iran cover-up

The case is against Meng Wanzhou, who is Huawei founder’s daugh­ter.

The Sunday Guardian - - Business - VAN­COU­VER/LON­DON REUTERS

Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer faces US ac­cu­sa­tions that she cov­ered up her com­pany’s links to a firm that tried to sell equip­ment to Iran de­spite sanc­tions, a Cana­dian pros­e­cu­tor said on Fri­day, ar­gu­ing against giv­ing her bail while she awaits ex­tra­di­tion.

The case against Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daugh­ter of the founder of Huawei, stems from a 2013 Reuters re­port about the com­pany’s close ties to Hong Kong-based Sky­com Tech Co Ltd, which at­tempted to sell US equip­ment to Iran de­spite US and Euro­pean Union bans, the pros­e­cu­tor told a Van­cou­ver court.

US prose­cu­tors ar­gue that Meng was not truth­ful to banks who asked her about links be­tween the two firms, the court heard on Fri­day. If ex­tra­dited to the United States, Meng would face charges of con­spir­acy to de­fraud mul­ti­ple fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, the court heard, with a max­i­mum sen­tence of 30 years for each charge.

No de­ci­sion was reached af­ter nearly six hours of ar­gu­ments and counter- ar­gu­ments, and the hear­ing was ad­journed un­til Mon­day 10:00 a.m. Pa­cific Time (1800 GMT). Meng, 46, was ar­rested in Canada on 1 De­cem­ber at the re­quest of the United States. The ar­rest was on the same day that US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump met in Ar­gentina with China’s Xi Jin­ping to look for ways to re­solve an es­ca­lat­ing trade war be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

The news of her ar­rest has roiled stock mar­kets and drawn con­dem­na­tion from Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties, although Trump and his top eco­nomic ad­vis­ers have down­played its im­por­tance to trade talks af- ter the two lead­ers agreed to a truce. Fri­day’s court hear­ing was in­tended to de­cide on whether Meng can post bail or if she should be kept in de­ten­tion. The pros­e­cu­tor op­posed bail, ar­gu­ing that Meng was a high flight risk with few ties to Van­cou­ver and that her fam­ily’s wealth would mean than even a multi-mil­lion­dol­lar surety would not weigh heav­ily should she breach con­di­tions.

Meng’s lawyer, David Martin, said her promi­nence made it un­likely she would breach any court or­ders.

“You can trust her,” he said. Flee­ing “would hu­mil­i­ate and em­bar­rass her fa­ther, whom she loves,” he ar­gued.

The United States has 60 days to make a for­mal ex­tra­di­tion re­quest, which a Cana­dian judge will weigh to de­ter­mine whether the case against Meng is strong enough.

Then it is up to Canada’s jus­tice min­is­ter to de­cide whether to ex­tra­dite her.

A spokesman for Huawei said on Fri­day the com­pany has “ev­ery con­fi­dence that the Cana­dian and US le­gal sys­tems will reach the right con­clu­sion.” The com­pany has said it com­plies with all ap­pli­ca­ble ex­port con­trol and sanc­tions laws and other reg­u­la­tions.

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