Middle East

Huawei chief faces US fraud charges relating to Iran sanctions

Earlier this year, Huawei topped Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world (Reuters)

Prosecutors in the United States want a top executive of China's Huawei Technologies to face fraud charges linked to the alleged skirting of US sanctions on Iran, a Canadian court heard on Friday.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, 46, who is also the daughter of the company founder, was arrested on 1 December in Vancouver at the request of the US.

The arrest, revealed by Canadian authorities late on Wednesday, was part of a US investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran, people familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Canada's Justice Department has declined to provide details of the case. A judge on Friday lifted a publication ban Meng had secured that curbed the media's ability to report on the evidence or documents presented in court.

Meng is charged with setting up a subsidiary called Skycom to evade sanctions on Iran, according to Canada's CBC News. The US government alleges that Skycom is a part of Huawei, not a separate partner.

From 2009 to 2014, the court heard, Huawei used Skycom to transact business in Iran despite US and European Union bans.


Iran, Saudi Arabia and a history of American aggression

If extradited, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.

The news of Meng's arrest roiled global stock markets on fears the move could escalate a trade war between the United States and China after a truce was last week between President Donald Trump and China's leader Xi Jinping.

Trump did not know about the arrest in advance, two US officials said on Thursday.

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that neither Canada nor the United States had provided China any evidence that Meng had broken any law in those two countries, and reiterated Beijing's demand that she be released.

Huawei said on Wednesday that "the company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on a conference call that China had been assured by Canada that due process was "absolutely being followed".

Chinese state media have slammed Meng's detention, accusing the United States of trying to "stifle" Huawei and curb its global expansion.

Earlier this year, Huawei topped US manufacturer Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung.

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