Saturday, 19 Jan 2019
World

Huawei executive wanted by U.S. faces fraud charges related to Iran sanctions, could face 30 years in prison

A senior Chinese tech executive faces fraud charges in the United States related to business dealings with Iran, a Canadian prosecutor said Friday, offering the first details of a Beijing-Washington-based trade deal.

John Gibb-Carsley argued that Meng committed fraud in 2013 by telling financial institutions that Huawei had no connection to a Hong Kong-based company, SkyCom, which was reportedly selling US goods to Iran in violation of US sanctions.

News of her arrest This week, the world's largest economies. The President of the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Meng was arrested at Hong Kong in Mexico City on Dec. 1, the same day Trump puts Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

But the warrant was issued long before that, the court heard. The allegations were detailed in Aug. 22 arrest warrant granted in the Eastern District of New York. A Canadian justice then issued a warrant when authorities became aware of Meng's travel plans.

Friday's hearing suggests that U.S. authorities will allege that Meng played a role in Huawei and Skycom.

These banks then cleared financial transactions for Huawei, said Gibb-Carsley, inadvertently doing business with SkyCom and becoming "victim institutions" of fraud.

"Skycom was Huawei," he said.

Meng's lawyers denied the allegation of fraud, telling the court that Huawei had already divested of SkyCom and left its board.

Gibb-Carsley argued that Meng, the daughter of the company's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei, is a flight risk because of her wealth and the fact that she could face it decades in prison.

Meng's lawyer, David Martin, said she would not risk embarrassing her father or her country by extradition hearing. He said Meng, who owns two homes, in Vancouver, would be a collateral and was willing to wear an ankle bracelet.

The U.S. and Canadian sides have thus far said little about the case.

The Chinese government has called for Meng's immediate release.

"Said Geng Shuang, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry.

The case has been called to a long-standing conflict over Chinese telecom company's operations in the United States and around the world.

Huawei, the world's second-largest maker of smartphones, is one of the pillars of the new, high-tech economy championed by Xi.

But the company is expanding its position, which has argued that Huawei is a threat to national security.

In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report on Huawai and a smaller firm, ZTE Corp., which warned that companies "provide a wealth of opportunities for Chinese intelligence agencies" to spy on U.S. companies or their equipment.

A previous case against ZTE, which is accused of violating U.S. export sanctions on Iran, brought it to the brink of bankruptcy last year. ZTE was initially blacklisted in the United States, but after Trump's intervention it was downgraded to an $ 890 million fine.

Although the United States has not detailed its evidence, the cases appear similar.

For China, the sight of Meng watching the proceedings from a glass defendant's box, perform at her side, will feel personal.

To some, Huawei is a symbol of China's great economic transformation and the country's reemergence on the world stage.

The company was founded in 1987 and has grown to become the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world, as a leading maker of cellphones.

The founder, Ren, is a prominent business figure in China and his family is seen as corporate royalty.

The same week news broke off Meng's arrest, her half sister, Annabel Yao, a 21-year-old Harvard student, was the subject of a fashion spread in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post that featured photographs of her recent appearance in a debutante ball in Paris.

The Communist Party-controlled media is already casting the box to a cynical U.S.

The United States is "resorting to despicable hooliganism," the Global Times, a journal known for its strident nationalism, wrote in an editorial published Thursday.

"Anybody can see that the United States is maliciously picking holes in Huawei, trying to give it a hard time using the American legal system," the paper said.

As an uncharacteristically quiet White House mulls its response, Canada is left in a tough position, caught between two superpowers.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that his country had no political involvement in Meng's arrest.

"The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case," he said. "We were advised by them with a few days' notice that this was in the works, but it was not a commitment or involvement in this policy."

Anna Fifield in Beijing Contributed to this report.

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