Over the strong objections of the Chinese government, Canada’s department of justice has decided to conduct extradition proceedings for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. A hearing to set a date to begin the process that could see Meng handed over to U.S. law enforcement is scheduled for March 6. Meng faces charges of misleading a bank regarding Huawei’s alleged role in illegal shipments of U.S. technology to Iran.
Canadian authorities arrested Meng in December 2018 in Vancouver at the behest of the U.S. (see “Canada arrests Huawei CFO at U.S. request”). She is under house arrest after posting bail. In late January, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a 13-count indictment against Meng, Huawei, Huawei Device USA Inc., and Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. Skycom is alleged to have acted on Huawei’s behalf to sell U.S. technology to Iran in defiance on a ban of such sales. The indictment charges Huawei and Skycom 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 Device USA are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice related to a grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of New York.
Meng, as previously reported, is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud, for allegedly misrepresenting to at least one bank Huawei’s activities in Iran (see “U.S. seeks to charge Huawei CFO with bank fraud”). Huawei is charged with making similar misrepresentations to other banks.
The obstruction of justice charges pertain to allegations that, once Huawei learned of the U.S. investigation into its alleged ties with Skycom, the company and Huawei Device USA tried to move witnesses with knowledge of the company’s business dealings with Iran back to China. The two companies also are charged with concealing and destroying evidence located in the U.S. related to Huawei’s Iran-based business.
“As charged in the indictment, Huawei and its chief financial officer broke U.S. law and have engaged in a fraudulent financial scheme that is detrimental to the security of the United States,” said Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the day the indictments were unsealed. “They willfully conducted millions of dollars in transactions that were in direct violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and such behavior will not be tolerated.”
Chinese government spokespeople, who had consistently portrayed Meng’s arrest as politically motivated as they called for her release, immediately criticized Canada’s decision to start extradition proceedings. “The Chinese side deplores and firmly opposes the Canadian side's obstinately moving forward the so-called judicial process of extradition against Ms. Meng Wanzhou and has lodged stern representations,” said Lu Kang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.
“China's position on the case of Meng Wanzhou is clear-cut and firm,” Lu continued. “The U.S. and Canada have abused their bilateral extradition agreement and arbitrarily taken compulsory measures on a Chinese citizen, which constitutes a serious violation of the legal rights and interests of the Chinese citizen. This is a severe political incident. We once again urge the U.S. side to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant and extradition request for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and urge the Canadian side to immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure that she returns to China safe and sound.”
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