Arrested Huawei CFO potentially faces decades in jail

Meng was arrested in Canada on December 1 at the request of the United States. — Reuters pic

Chinese Tech Exec Faces 30 Years in Prison in U.S., Canadian Prosecutor Says

Meng, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, concealed the company's ties to a company called SkyCom Tech that did business in Iran, Canadian prosecutors told Justice William Ehrcke.

Her detention comes less than two months after a Chinese intelligence officer was arrested in Belgium and extradited to the USA to face espionage charges, in the first case of a Chinese intelligence official being taken to the United States to face prosecution in an open court.

Meng faces charges of fraud in the United States for allegedly misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with Hong Kong-based Skycom, according to evidence read in court on Friday.

Meng was arrested in Vancouver on 1 December and appeared in one of the city's courts on Friday, where prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley asked the judge to deny her application for bail.

"Ms. Meng personally represented to those banks that Skycom and Huawei were separate, when in fact they were not separate", Gibb-Carsley said.

Dressed in a dark green sweatshirt and sweatpants, she shook hands with her lawyer, David Martin, and smiled at him after she was led into B.C. Supreme Court by a sheriff.

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Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei is a former member of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), where he worked as an engineer helping to build its communications network.

CNN, quoting an unnamed official, said the United States saw the arrest as providing leverage in US-China trade talks - although White House trade advisor Peter Navarro has denied any link to the dialogue.

Washington also regards Beijing's ambitious long-term development plan, "Made in China 2025", as a scheme to dominate such fields as robotics and electric vehicles by unfairly subsidising Chinese companies and discriminating against foreign competitors.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, former Central Intelligence Agency chief Michael Hayden said there is evidence that Huawei spies for Beijing.

The Canadian prosecutor said this was untrue.

Huawei was founded to sell phone switches but it is now the world's biggest supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies.

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The White House did not specify why she was detained but mentioned longstanding United States concerns over Chinese firms using stolen intellectual property and how Beijing acquires information technology. "If the USA does what it did to ZTE, there's very little China can do to prevent Huawei from collapsing, and that's not in China's interest".

USA intelligence agencies also allege that Huawei is linked to China's government and that its equipment could contain "backdoors" for use by government spies. Meng also faces possible extradition from Canada.

For a period of time she was in charge of Huawei's successful internationalization efforts.

"China has more incentive than the stop the escalation", said Yanmei Xie, an analyst at the Gavekal Dragonomics consultancy in Beijing.

A recent article from the newspaper The Australian says that officials in Australia have received reports about Chinese spies using Huawei to infiltrate a "foreign network".

Huawei staff briefed on an internal memo told Reuters on Friday the company had appointed Chairman Liang Hua as acting CFO following Meng's arrest.

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