Chinese tech executive lied to evade sanctions on Iran, U.S. charges

Chinese Tech Exec Faces 30 Years in Prison in U.S., Canadian Prosecutor Says

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese military engineer worth $3.2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Chinese telecom giant Huawei's chief financial officer, arrested in Canada, faces U.S. fraud charges for allegedly lying to banks about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of sanctions, a court in the Canadian city of Vancouver has heard. The detention was part of an American investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade USA sanctions against Iran.

Ms. Meng, 46, began her career with the company as a receptionist in 1993 before entering into the accounting department and moving up the corporate ranks, the court heard. This put the banks at risk of breaching sanctions. In turn, Skycom chiefs in Iran were employed by Huawei.

Her bail hearing was adjourned until Monday at 10am (18:00 GMT).

If she is extradited and convicted, she could face sentences as long as 30 years. U.S. authorities say the company has started recalling US-based employees who could serve as witnesses in the supposed Iran sanctions violations case, and executives began avoiding travel to America as early as April 2017, upon learning of the investigation.

Meng had been a member of SkyCom´s board a decade ago, but the company was later sold, said her lawyer David Martin.

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According to Reuters, Huawei tried to obstruct the investigation by moving out of the United States any Chinese national employees who may be potential witnesses regarding company's operations in Iran. "They had been warned, and finally we had to prosecute that", he said.

If she is released on bail, she has agreed to surrender her passports and submit to electronic monitoring until she is discharged or surrendered for trial to the United States. With Washington's previous allegations that Huawei has direct links to the Chinese government, it's not a big stretch to assume Meng's case is another trade war offensive, perhaps a hostage-taking. The White House also denied any involvement in Meng's arrest.

The case will likely intensify pressure on the Trudeau government, which is being urged to refuse to allow Huawei products in Canada's next-generation 5G telecommunications networks. She conferred with her two lawyers through a translator.

A White House official said Trump did not know about a U.S. request for her extradition from Canada before he met Xi and agreed to a 90-day truce in the brewing trade war. "John has been very clear with the Chinese authorities - as we are with Canadians - that this was a matter handled as a part of our rule-of-law process; it was done without any engagement on involvement in the political level because we respect the independence of our judiciary". "Despite incomplete information about the incident, the U.S. move obviously goes against the consensus reached between the heads of state of China and the USA in Argentina".

Meng's bio on the company website says she joined in 1993 and held various positions across the company, including director of worldwide accounting and CFO of Huawei Hong Kong.

Chinese state media have argued that the United States was abusing the law to hurt Huawei's worldwide reputation.

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