U.S. Seeks Extradition of Huawei CFO Over Fraud Charges; ‘Deeply Grateful’ to Canada

The United States Department of Justice—as expected—has announced it plans to seek extradition of arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, currently held in Vancouver. The U.S. said during its press conference it was “deeply grateful to the government of Canada” for following the rule of law.

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Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

According to the DoJ, Meng and Huawei are accused of bypassing U.S. sanctions against Iran:

A 13-count indictment was unsealed earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging four defendants, including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (Huawei), the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, with headquarters in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and operations around the world.  The indicted defendants include Huawei and two Huawei affiliates — Huawei Device USA Inc. (Huawei USA) and Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. (Skycom) — as well as Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wanzhou Meng (Meng).

The defendants Huawei and Skycom are charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Huawei and Huawei USA are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice related to the grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of New York.  Meng is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a statement, “These charges lay bare Huawei’s alleged blatant disregard for the laws of our country and standard global business practices,” adding, “Companies like Huawei pose a dual threat to both our economic and national security, and the magnitude of these charges make clear just how seriously the FBI takes this threat. Today should serve as a warning that we will not tolerate businesses that violate our laws, obstruct justice, or jeopardize national and economic well-being.”

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December, during a layover ahead of her final destination in Mexico. The CFO made $10 million bail and currently is staying at one of her Vancouver area mansions.

The arrest of the Huawei CFO has deteriorated Canada-Chinese relations. China retaliated to the arrest by detaining two Canadian men, while sentencing a third Canadian to death, a harsher penalty than originally charged for drug smuggling.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired Canada’s ambassador to China for speaking publicly to media about the Huawei case, with the latter’s comments favouring Meng’s possible defence against extradition.

Canada’s allies such as the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei equipment for next-generation 5G networks. Canada is under pressure to do the same, despite carriers Telus and Bell working with Huawei for 5G.

A security review of Canada’s 5G network plans are underway from the federal government but the results aren’t expected until later this year.

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