Meng Wanzhou: US prosecutors reach deal in case of Huawei executive at center of diplomatic row

The agreement with Wanzhou clears a topic of dispute between US and China and could bring release of two Canadians

Last modified on Fri 24 Sep 2021 12.52 EDT

Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive at the centre of a three-way diplomatic row between China, the US and Canada has reached an agreement with US prosecutors to resolve the bank fraud case against her, in a process that should allow her to leave Canada, where she has been under house arrest.

Meng is expected to appear virtually in a hearing on Friday afternoon in Brooklyn federal court. She was arrested at Vancouver international airport in December 2018 on a US warrant, and was indicted on bank and wire fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

The deferred prosecution agreement pertains only to Meng and US charges remain against the company, according to another person familiar with the matter.

But such a resolution would remove one of several major disputes between the world’s two biggest economies. The agreement could also pave the way for the release of two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who are held in China after they were arrested shortly after Meng was taken in custody in 2018. In August, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage.

A spokeswoman for Huawei declined to comment. A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment. An attorney for Meng could not be immediately reached for comment. Meng has said she is innocent and has been fighting extradition to the United States from Canada. Meng is confined to Vancouver and monitored 24/7 by private security that she pays for as part of her bail agreement.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the government agrees to refrain from prosecuting a defendant for a period of time, and drops the case altogether if the defendant complies with specified conditions.

Huawei, a telecommunications equipment giant, was placed on a US trade blacklist in 2019 that restricts sales to the company for activities contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests. The restrictions have hobbled the company, which suffered its biggest ever revenue drop in the first half of 2021, after the US supply restrictions drove it to sell a chunk of its once-dominant handset business and before new growth areas have matured.

The criminal case against Meng – the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – and Huawei is cited in the blacklisting. Huawei is charged with operating as a criminal enterprise, stealing trade secrets and defrauding financial institutions. It has pleaded not guilty.

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