Chinese executive facing extradition appears in court
A top Chinese telecommunications executive facing possible extradition to the United States appeared in court Friday as she sought bail in a case that has rattled markets and raised doubts about the U.S. being able to reach a truce in its trade war with China.
A prosecutor for the Canadian government urged the court not to grant bail, saying the charges against Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Chinese telecom giant Huawei, involve U.S. allegations that Huawei used a shell company to access the Iran market in dealings that contravene U.S. sanctions.
Prosecutor John GibbCarsley said Meng, who has vast financial resources as the daughter of Huawei’s founder, has incentive to flee Canada because she faces fraud charges in the U.S. that could bring up to 30 years in prison.
The prosecutor said Meng assured U.S. banks that Huawei and the shell company alleged to have done business with Iran, called Skycom, were separate companies, but in fact Skycom and Huawei were one and the same.
“Ms. Meng personally represented to those banks that Skycom and Huawei were separate, when in fact they were not separate,” GibbCarsley said. “Skycom was Huawei.”
Meng has contended Huawei sold Skycom in 2009.
Gibb-Carsley said the warrant for Meng’s arrest was issued in New York on Aug. 22. He said Meng was aware of the U.S. investigation and had avoided the U.S. since March 2017, even though her teenage son goes to school in Boston.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday en route to Mexico from Hong Kong.
Meng’s lawyer, David Martin, disputed the prosecutor’s call to deny bail, saying: “The fact a person has worked hard and has extraordinary resources cannot be a factor that would exclude them from bail.”
Meng’s arrest came as a jarring surprise after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a trade truce last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Fears of renewed U.S.China trade hostilities have rattled global financial markets. They tumbled Thursday. Stocks regained their equilibrium Friday in Europe and Asia after conciliatory words from Beijing but fell again on Wall Street.
Trump himself sought to inject a note of optimism into the proceedings, going on Twitter before dawn Friday to say: “China talks are going very well!”
Huawei has been a subject of U.S. national security concerns for years and Meng’s case echoes well beyond tariffs or market access. Washington and Beijing are locked in a clash between the world’s two largest economies for economic and political dominance for decades to come.