Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou briefly appears in Vancouver court

Jan 30 2019, 12:26 am

One day after the US Justice Department announced charges against China’s Huawei Technologies, the company’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, and two affiliates, Wanzhou made a brief appearance in court for what essentially amounted to an adjustment to her bail conditions.

Meng was released on bail with the assistance of Robert Cheng who was named as a surety guarantor after pledging the $1.8 million value of his home.

However, as it turned out, Cheng never actually signed the required documents, due to a drop in the value of his home.

Since then, Cheng has followed up with the original pledged amount and Meng’s appearance in court centred around a request to reinstate him as a guarantor.

A 13-count indictment was unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging the defendants with the following:

  • 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
  • Conspiracy to commit money laundering

The Justice Department says that Meng is specifically charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud.

“As charged in the indictment, Huawei and its Chief Financial Officer broke US law and have engaged in a fraudulent financial scheme that is detrimental to the security of the United States,” said Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of US Homeland Security, in a statement.

“They willfully conducted millions of dollars in transactions that were in direct violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and such behaviour will not be tolerated. The Department of Homeland Security is focused on preventing nefarious actors from accessing or manipulating our financial system, and we will ensure that legitimate economic activity is not exploited by our adversaries.”

Charges based on a ‘long-running scheme’

The Department of Justice says that the charges in the case relate to a “long-running scheme by Huawei’s business activities in Iran.”

Beginning in 2007, Huawei employees lied about the company’s relationship to Iranian company Skycom, falsely claiming that it was not an affiliated with Huawei. The company also claimed that Huawei had limited operations in Iran and Huawei was not violating US or other laws and regulations related to Iran.

The US says that Meng “continued to lie to Huawei’s banking partners about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom. They falsely claimed that Huawei had sold its interest in Skycom to an unrelated third party in 2007 and that Skycom was merely Huawei’s local business partner in Iran. ”

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The indictment also says that Huawei relied on global banking relationships for financial services including processing US-dollar transactions through the US.

American laws generally prohibit these financial institutions from processing transactions related to Iran in country.

In 2017, Huawei learned about the government’s investigation and the company and its subsidiary Huawei USA “allegedly tried to obstruct the investigation by making efforts to move witnesses with knowledge about Huawei’s Iran-based business to the PRC [People’s Republic of China], and beyond the jurisdiction of the US government, and by concealing and destroying evidence of Huawei’s Iran-based business that was located in the United States.”

Meng arrested

Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, 2018, while she was transferring flights at YVR.

Her bail was set at $ 10 million. She is expected to be back at BC Supreme Court on March 6, 2019, for further proceedings, as the extradition process is expected to be a months-long ordeal.

Her bail conditions prevent her from leaving BC and is under 24/7 surveillance, including electronic monitoring.

The mother-of-four owns two multi-million dollar homes in Vancouver. According to her court-ordered release conditions, she must reside there until her next court appearance.