After almost three years, Canadian authorities have released Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou after US authorities abandoned their attempt to extradite her.
Huawei and the US Department of Justice have reached an agreement that did not require Meng to plead guilty, and will see the fraud charges against her dropped at 14 months. She will face no further prosecution, and following the withdrawal of the US extradition request, she has now returned to China.
The executive – who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – has been under house arrest in Canada since she was detained in Vancouver on fraud charges brought against her by US authorities. China has repeatedly railed against Meng’s detention, with Foreign Ministry representative Hua Chunying describing it as a “typical case of arbitrary detention” as recently as September 25th.
The US alleged that Meng had misled HSBC over Huawei’s relationship with Iran-based Skycom Tech, which was found by independent sources to have been effectively controlled by Huawei. The Chinese vendor has stated that it will “continue to defend itself against” this claim, although as part of the agreement Meng conceded that she had lied to HSBC about the relationship between the companies.
As explained by Acting U.S. Attorney Nicole Boeckmann for the Eastern District of New York: “In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution. Her admissions in the statement of facts confirm that, while acting as the Chief Financial Officer for Huawei, Meng made multiple material misrepresentations to a senior executive of a financial institution regarding Huawei’s business operations in Iran in an effort to preserve Huawei’s banking relationship with the financial institution.”
In a move widely seen as retaliatory, China detained two Canadian citizens without charge for 18 months. Both were released before Meng had completed her return journey to China.