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Trade war

Huawei CFO avoided US travel, Canadian prosecutors say

Meng Wanzhou appears in Canada court on Iran trading charges

In this courtroom sketch, Meng Wanzhou, right, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, sits beside a translator during a bail hearing at British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver, Dec. 7.   © AP

WASHINGTON -- The arrested chief financial officer of China’s top communications equipment supplier, Huawei Technologies, likely lied to financial institutions regarding dealings with Iran to evade U.S. sanctions and should remain in custody, Canadian prosecutors argued in a Vancouver court on Friday.

Meng Wanzhou, 46, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver on a trip from Hong Kong, where she resides, to Mexico.

She was detained at the request of the U.S. and a court hearing was held Friday to determine whether she should be released on bail.

The prosecution noted that Meng had detected that an investigation was closing in on her and had avoided traveling to the U.S. since the spring of 2017, despite her son attending a school in Boston.

Prosecutors allege that Meng explained to financial institutions that there were no relations between Huawei and Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech, a company that had transactions with an Iranian telecommunications company, even though there actually were.

Records show that Meng served on Skycom's board between February 2008 and April 2009.

The prosecution said there is a "risk of flight" if Meng were to be offered bail, noting that she has no meaningful connection to Canada and that her family has vast wealth. A prosecutor said her father, Ren, is worth the equivalent of $3.2 billion.

A judge in New York issued an arrest warrant for Meng on Aug. 22. Anticipating her trip to Canada, American authorities sought cooperation from the Canadian side in November in order to detain her. U.S. media reported in April that American authorities were investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran. But the Canadian prosecutor implied that Meng had been aware of the U.S. investigation long before that.

The United States has 60 days to make a formal extradition request, which a Canadian judge will weigh to determine whether there is a strong case against Meng. Canada's justice minister will then decide whether to extradite her.

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

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