Huawei finance chief arrested in Canada, faces extradition to US over Iran sanctions – report
Canadian law enforcers have arrested a top executive at Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei, heeding a request from the US. She is reportedly sought by the US for breaking trade embargo with Iran.
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and board deputy chair, has been confirmed by the Canadian authorities. She is the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei.
The woman was apprehended on Saturday and is awaiting the bail hearing scheduled for Friday, Canada’s Department of Justice spokesman Ian McLeod told The Globe and Mail.
He refused to provide any details on the circumstances of the Chinese executive’s arrest, saying that she was “sought for extradition by the United States.”
Mcleod refused to elaborate on the charges that Meng might face in the US citing a publication ban, requested by Meng herself.
The Wall Street Journal reported back in April, that the US authorities have been probing the Chinese telecommunication giant since at least 2016 for allegedly circumventing Iranian sanctions and supplying US-origin products to the Islamic Republic.
The US Justice, Commerce and Treasury departments have so far refused to divulge any information on the reported criminal investigation into Huawei, or even confirm its existence. According to the WSJ, the company was served subpoenas by the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as part of the investigation.
The Chinese company has likewise refrained from commenting on its legal woes in the US, that can further deteriorate its standing on western markets.
The news of Meng’s arrest follows a recent report by the WSJ that the US government has embarked on a mission to discourage its allies from using Huawei’s equipment which it considers a security risk. Washington reportedly offered its partners in Europe and Asia subsidies to buy non-Chinese equipment so they ditch Huawei or any other Chinese firm, such as ZTE.
The US’ crackdown on the Chinese firm, which is the world’s leading telecommunication equipment supplier, was exacerbated by the looming introduction of 5G wireless networks. Washington reportedly fears that the Chinese government might use Huawei’s technical edge to spy on and disrupt communications.
Washington's strategy seems to be paying off, with New Zealand blocking its top telecommunications firm from using Huawei equipment for its 5G network citing “significant national security risks.”
Australia banned Huawei from its 5G network over the summer, with the country’s spy chief voicing similar concerns over foreign entities hijacking the networks critical for healthcare, energy and other systems.
Huawei denies it is controlled by Beijing, and is accusing the US of unfair competition.
China has decried the arrest of Meng, urging the US and Canada to “immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom” of the Huawei executive.
The Chinese embassy in Canada issued a statement, saying that Bejiing “stongly protests over such kind of actions” as they “seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.” The embassy says the arrest was unwarranted since Meng was “not violating any American or Canadian law.”
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