Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou is facing fraud charges in the United States related to business dealings with Iran, a Canadian prosecutor said Friday, offering the first details of a case that has pummeled financial markets and raised questions about a current trade truce between Beijing and Washington.
US prosecutors who charged Huawei’s chief financial officer with fraud, said she had used at least seven passports in 11 years.
Before a packed courtroom in Vancouver, prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley argued that Meng Wanzhou committed fraud in 2013 by telling financial institutions that China’s Huawei had no connection to a Hong Kong-based company, Skycom, which was reportedly selling U.S. goods to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. Meng’s lawyer denied the charge.
According to the Canadian court documents, Huawei operated Skycom Tech Co LTD as an unofficial subsidiary to conduct business in Iran, Reuters reported Friday.
In particular, Skycom bank accounts were controlled by Huawei employees, court documents revealed. In turn, Skycom chiefs in Iran were employed by Huawei.
Media report also said, citing the Canadian court documents, that a certain financial institution and its subsidiary office in the US cleared more than $100 million of transactions related to Skycom through the United States between 2010 and 2014. Evidence also show that Skycom was sold in 2009 not to a purpotedly unrelated entity but one also controlled by Huawei until at least 2014.
According to Reuters, Huawei has tried to obstruct the investigation by moving out of the country US-based Chinese national employees who may be potential witnesses regarding company’s operations in Iran. Moreover, the US authorities believe that Huawei top managers began avoiding travel to the US around April 2017 after becoming aware of the US criminal probe.
A New York court issued an arrest warrant for Huawei Technologies’Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on August 22, asking she be detained to stand trial to face US charges, Reuters said, citing documents released during her bail hearing in Canada on Friday.
Moreover, the US authorities have reportedly received evidence that Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, has had at least seven passports issued in China and Hong Kong in the last 11 years.
The Canadian court documents said the United States learned on November 29 that Meng was stopping over in Vancouver on her way to a third country believed to be Mexico.
Meanwhile, the Chinese telecom equipment producer Huawei Technologies on Friday dismissed allegations of a number of countries that it threatened security of foreign countries.
“We strongly reject any accusations that our company may pose any security risks,” the statement read. The company underlined that it had never been asked by any state to create loopholes in the networks.
“We are part of the solution, not part of the problem. No government has ever asked us to create loopholes in the networks or penetrate them, and we would never tolerate such actions from any of our employees,” the IT-giant stressed.
The Chinese firm has recently faced scrutiny, mainly in Western states. On Thursday, European Commission’s Vice-President Andrus Ansip said that foreign countries should be “worried” about Huawei and other Chinese tech giants as they were allegedly forced to cooperate with the Chinese intelligence services.
In mid-August, US President Donald Trump enacted legislation banning government agencies from using services from Huawei and ZTE, along other Chinese companies. This came after retail stores at US military bases were prohibited from selling Huawei and ZTE mobile phones over concerns that they “pose an unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel, information and mission.”
In November, media reported that the United States had been urging its allies, including Japan, to abandon the use of Huawei due to security concerns.
Meng was arrested in the Canadian city of Vancouver last Saturday at the US request on suspicion of violating US sanctions against Iran.
Washington Post – Sky