The U.S. government has officially requested the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wangzhou from Canada to the U.S., according to published reports.
The U.S. made its request to Canada one day before the deadline for it to do do, the Wall Street Journal reported. Meng was arrested in Canada in early December at the request of U.S. authorities, who then had 60 days to formally ask for her extradition. Meng was granted bail on Dec. 11 by a Canadian court. Bail was set at CAD10 million ($7.5 million). The Chinese executive had to wear an electronic ankle tag and was under 24-hour surveillance; she is set to return to court on Feb. 6.
The Department of Justice this week outlined 23 charges against Huawei, two of its affiliates, and Meng, from grand juries in Seattle and New York. The DOJ is alleging financial fraud and violations of U.S. trade rules as well as corporate espionage related to T-Mobile US’ development of a robot for testing mobile devices.
Huawei released a statement saying that it is “disappointed to learn of the charges” and denying them, saying that it is unaware of any wrongdoing by its CFO and that it believes the U.S. courts will ultimately confirm that it has not violated the law.
In New York Huawei, Meng and two of the company’s affiliates — Huawei Device USA and Skycom Tech, based in Iran — face a 13-count indictment that outlines what the DOJ described as more than a decade of criminal activity that violated U.S. trade rules and sanctions on Iran. Violations of those sanctions led to the U.S. imposing an export ban on Chinese vendor ZTE which ultimately forced the company to temporarily shut down its operations until it met conditions — including fines, firing its top executives and agreeing to U.S. monitors — that satisfied U.S. Department of Commerce officials.
“The criminal activity alleged in this indictment goes back at least 10 years and goes all the way to the top of the company,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told reporters during a press conference.
Whitaker said that as early as 2007, Huawei employees allegedly “began to misrepresent the company’s relationship with its Iranian affiliate” — Skycom.
“Huawei employees allegedly told banking partners that Huawei had sold its ownership interest in Skycom—but these claims were false. In reality, Huawei sold Skycom to itself,” Whitaker said. “By claiming that Skycom was a separate company—and not an affiliate which Huawei controlled—Huawei allegedly asserted that all of its Iran business was in compliance with American sanctions. These alleged false claims led banks to do business with the company and, therefore, to unknowingly violate our laws. One bank facilitated more than $100 million worth of Skycom transactions through the United States and in just four years.”
Meng is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. In particular, the DOJ alleges that Meng, who had served on the board of directors of Skycom, misled Huawei’s banking parters about the company’s relationship with Skycom, including a presentation to a banking executive in August of 2013 in which she “repeatedly lied about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom,” according to the DOJ.
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