The chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei reached a deferred prosecution agreement with US prosecutors on Friday to avoid felony fraud charges, paving the way for her release after nearly three years in detention in Canada.
Attorney for the United States Department of Justice, David Kessler, said in a federal court hearing in Brooklyn, New York, that the government agreed to stay the prosecution of Meng Wanzhou until December 1, 2022, and that if he complied the terms of the agreement, the charges would be dropped.
In addition, it recommended that “Ms. Meng be released on personal recognition bond.”
Meng accepted a statement of fact in the case, in which she was accused of defrauding HSBC Bank and other banks by falsely misrepresenting the links between Huawei and Skycom, a subsidiary that sold telecommunications equipment to Iran.
But Meng, who appeared via video transmission in the Vancouver courtroom, upheld his “not guilty” plea in the politically explosive case.
Judge Ann Donnelly approved the agreement, saying, “I believe the government has established that the deferred prosecution agreement is in good faith.”
Huawei’s CFO Wanzhou Meng admits to misleading global financial institution: Meng signs deferred prosecution agreement to settle fraud charges https://t.co/Bx7bkRnOJm
– Criminal Division (@DOJCrimDiv) September 24, 2021
As the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng was known internally as the “princess” of the company and its possible future leader.
His detention in December 2018 has fueled a major diplomatic crisis that lasted for years, exacerbating tensions between Washington and Beijing, and brought Canada into the fray with the arrest of two of its citizens in what was seen as eye retaliation by eye on the part of Porcelain.
Meng, 49, was arrested on a US warrant in the Canadian city of Vancouver, where she has been trapped ever since, fighting extradition to the United States.
With a deal agreed, his house arrest in Vancouver is now expected to be lifted and the extradition case dropped.
Global telecommunications company
As a member of Skycom’s board of directors, Meng was accused of masking the company’s financial transactions through the US financial system, violating US sanctions on Iran, and lying to FBI investigators about it.
But the case was embroiled in a broader battle between the United States and China over Huawei, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.
Huawei maintains that it is an independent, privately-owned company, but Washington claims that the Chinese government has dominance over it and could use its equipment for intelligence gathering.
The Pentagon lists Huawei as an army-backed company to avoid in hiring, noting that its founder, Ren, was previously an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army.
The US government and military banned Huawei’s equipment and sought to get other local governments and private companies to ditch the company’s widespread routers and switching equipment.
The United States has also banned US tech companies from exporting certain equipment and materials to Huawei, and has encouraged other countries to give up Huawei equipment.
The United States secretly issued an arrest warrant for Meng in August 2018 and pressured Canada to arrest her when she flew into Vancouver International Airport on December 1, 2018.
Meng was placed under house arrest in Canada when the United States Department of Justice lobbied for her extradition.
He faced a possible 30-year prison sentence on the charges, which China called “completely political.”
Days after his arrest, China detained two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, accusing them of espionage.
Both were tried in March and in August Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
No decision has been announced in Kovrig’s case.
Western nations have accused China of “hostage diplomacy” for arresting and indicting Canadians.
Beijing-Ottawa relations have bottomed out over the case and those of the Canadians detained in China.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced Spavor’s sentence as “unacceptable and unfair” and said the charges were “fabricated”.