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, on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Meng faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of trying to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. She appeared in a Vancouver court Friday to seek bail. (Jane Wolsak/The Canadian Press via AP)

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, on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Meng faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of trying to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. She appeared in a Vancouver court Friday to seek bail. (Jane Wolsak/The Canadian Press via AP)

Chinese telecom executive accused of fraud over Iran sanctions in United States

Huawei said the company complies with all laws and regulations in the countries where it operates

A senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei is facing allegations of fraud by using a subsidiary to violate United States and European Union trade sanctions against Iran in a case that shook world stock markets this week.

A federal prosecutor told a bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Friday that the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies is wanted in the United States on criminal allegations that Huawei used its subsidiary Skycom to do business with Iranian telecommunications companies between 2009 and 2014.

John Gibb-Carsley said Meng is alleged to have said Huawei and Skycom were separate companies in a meeting with an executive of a financial institution, misleading the executive and putting the institution at risk of financial harm and criminal liability.

“Skycom was Huawei. This is the crux of the alleged misrepresentation. This is the alleged fraud,” said Gibb-Carsley, representing the Attorney General of Canada.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Gibb-Carsley told the B.C. Supreme Court hearing that Reuters reported in 2013 that Huawei was operating Skycom and had attempted to import U.S.-manufactured computer equipment into Iran in violation of sanctions. The story caused concern among banks that did international business with Huawei, he said.

Executives, including Meng, then made a series of misrepresentations about the relationship between the two companies to the banks, inducing them to carry out transactions linked to Iran they otherwise would not have completed and which violated sanction laws, he told the court.

He said Meng met with an executive of a bank and delivered a PowerPoint presentation in which she said Huawei had sold its shares in Skycom in 2009 and she was no longer a member of its board. However, the entity to which Skycom was sold was also controlled by Huawei until at least 2014, Gibb-Carsley alleged.

Huawei operated Skycom as an “unofficial subsidiary,” he said, adding that Skycom employees had Huawei email addresses and badges and former employees have said there was no distinction between the two companies.

“Skycom employees, it’s alleged, were Huawei employees,” Gibb-Carsley said.

The company has said it is not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng and her lawyer, David Martin, said no charge or indictment has been filed against his client, just a warrant.

Martin said Meng’s 2013 presentation to the executive of the bank, which he identified as HSBC, was prepared by numerous employees at Huawei. The presentation did assert that Huawei operates in Iran in strict compliance with applicable laws and sanctions, he said.

It also said that Huawei’s engagement with Skycom is a normal business co-operation and it requires Skycom to make commitments on observing applicable laws.

“The suggestion that this 2013 PowerPoint induced the Hong Kong bank, the largest financial institution in the world, with vast compliance departments … to continue to provide financial services is preposterous,” said Martin.

Huawei sold its shares in Skycom before the sanctions became law in the United States under president Barack Obama in 2010, he added.

Martin also argued that the allegations detailed by Canada do not support the case.

“The allegations contained in this document do not support a prima facie case of fraud against Ms. Meng, let alone against Huawei,” he said.

The case was adjourned until Monday by Justice William Ehrcke to allow the defence more time to complete its submissions.

Gibb-Carsley said the Attorney General opposes Meng’s release on bail.

He said there is incentive for Meng to leave Canada, telling the court her father’s net worth is $3.2 billion and she has no meaningful connection to Canada, apart from spending two to three weeks on vacation in Vancouver every summer.

He also alleged that there is evidence Meng has avoided the U.S. since she became aware of a criminal investigation into her activities.

But Martin told the judge Meng is a prominent figure and she would not violate a court order if she were released.

“You can rely upon her personal dignity,” he said, adding that to breach a court order “would be to humiliate and embarrass her father, who she loves.”

Huawei is the most prestigious tech company in China and was founded by Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei.

Martin said Meng was previously a permanent resident of Vancouver and her children went to school in the city, so her ties are stronger than claimed by the Crown.

Martin said two properties in Vancouver worth a total of $14 million could be put up for bail, and electronic monitoring and surveillance-based security could be used, although he said neither would be necessary.

Martin added that Meng was willing to surrender her two valid passports to the RCMP.

Meng was arrested Saturday while in transit at Vancouver’s airport. The court heard she was en route from Hong Kong to Mexico.

Her lawyer said she avoided the U.S. not because of any investigation but because the country has been unfriendly toward Huawei.

The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for Chinese spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

“One would have to be tone deaf to not understand that Huawei had become a hostile place to do business,” Martin said.

In a statement earlier this week, Huawei said the company complies with all laws and regulations in the countries where it operates, including applicable export control, sanction laws and regulations of the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, and has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. The United States has pressured European countries and other allies to limit the use of its technology.

Meng is a prominent member of Chinese society as deputy chairwoman of the Huawei board. The company is a privately held juggernaut with projected 2018 sales of more than US$102 billion that has already overtaken Apple in smartphone sales.

U.S. and Asian stock markets tumbled after news of Meng’s arrest as it was seen to cause another flare-up in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Huawei has grown to more than 170,000 employees and does businesses in more than 170 countries since Ren founded the company in 1987.

Meng, who also goes by the first name Sabrina, is one of four deputy chairs listed on the Huawei website and one of three women to sit on the Huawei board.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

In this undated photo released by Huawei, Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is seen in a portrait photo. China on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, demanded Canada release the Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested in a case that adds to technology tensions with Washington and threatens to complicate trade talks. (Huawei via AP)

In this undated photo released by Huawei, Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is seen in a portrait photo. China on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, demanded Canada release the Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested in a case that adds to technology tensions with Washington and threatens to complicate trade talks. (Huawei via AP)

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Volunteers in the Centre 64 kitchen in pre-COVID times. Kimberley Arts Council photo
Kimberley Arts Council seeks new board members

The Kimberley Arts council is looking for new members to join their… Continue reading

Left to right, Wayne Day, AF Ret’d; Doug Prentice, Army Ret’d, Kyle Dalum, Army Ret’d and Randy Kruger. Front, Vicky Kruger. Photo submitted
Veteran donates three quilts to Quilts of Valour after receiving her own

Cindy Postnikoff, who distributes Quilts of Valour to area veterans, as well… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Most Read