Huawei CFO court appearance postponed to March

The CFO’s next court appearance has been postponed to March 6, with Meng’s indictment documents revealing that she is facing charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and wire fraud.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has again faced a court in Canada over her bail, after the chief financial officer requested a change in who is financially responsible for bail ahead of her extradition hearing.

Justice William Ehrcke on Tuesday approved the change, and additionally postponed her next court appearance to March, which comes after the 30-day extradition decision deadline.

"I can confirm that the United States has filed a formal request with my department for the extradition of Ms Meng," Justice Minister David Lametti told media in Ottawa.

Meng is personally facing one count each for conspiracy to commit bank fraud; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; bank fraud; and wire fraud.

The indictment against Meng claims that during meetings with an unnamed banking institution in the US, she misrepresented Huawei's ownership and control of Iranian affiliate Skycom, as well as its compliance with UN, US, and EU sanctions.

These misrepresentations included that Huawei "operates in Iran in strict compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and sanctions of UN, US, and EU"; "Huawei's engagement with Skycom is normal business cooperation"; and that Meng's involvement on the Skycom board of directors was to "help Huawei to better understand Skycom's financial results and business performance, and to strengthen and monitor Skycom's compliance".

"These statements were all false," the indictment alleges.

The indictment also claims that Meng travelled to JFK airport in New York in early 2014, "carrying an electronic device that contained a file in unallocated space -- indicating that the file may have been deleted", which contained similar suggested talking points on Iran and Skycom for a meeting with a financial institution executive, including that Skycom was "mainly an agent for Huawei".

On conspiracy to commit bank fraud, the indictment alleges that Meng, Huawei, and Skycom between November 2007 and May 2015 "knowingly and intentionally conspire[d] to execute a scheme and artifice to defraud US Subsidiary 1, a financial institution, and to obtain moneys, funds, credits, and other property ... by means of one or more materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises".

They did so "by means of wire communication in interstate and foreign commerce, writings, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds", the count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud alleges.

The indictment claims that Meng, Huawei, and Skycom additionally "knowingly and intentionally execute[d] a scheme and artifice to defraud US subsidiary 1, a financial institution, and to obtain moneys, funds, credits, and other property ... by means of one or more materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises"; and "transmitted by means of wire communication in interstate and foreign commerce, writings, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds" such as emails, written communications, and oral communications on Huawei's relationship with Skycom and its compliance with US and UN sanctions.

Huawei is also facing counts for conspiracy to: defraud the United States; violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); violate the IEEPA; commit money laundering; and obstruct justice. 

The company is also facing allegations, for a separate indictment, that it conspired to steal intellectual property from T-Mobile and subsequently obstructed justice. The alleged activity occurred during 2012-13, and relates to Huawei's attempt to build a robot similar to the one T-Mobile was using at the time to test mobile phones.

It is alleged that a number of emails were exchanged between Huawei China and Huawei USA employees, containing authorised photos of the T-Mobile Tappy robot, as well as other confident information in violation of non-disclosure agreements. The activity culminated in a Huawei China employee gaining unauthorised access to the robot twice, it is alleged, and a Huawei USA employee stealing one of the robot's arms for photographing and measuring until it was returned the next day.

The US is further alleging the company covered up the theft, and that Huawei China launched an employee bonus program for theft of competitor's secrets, which Huawei USA human resources had to point out to American employees as being "expressly prohibited".

FBI director Christopher Wray said companies like Huawei pose a threat to national and economic security.

"These charges lay bare Huawei's alleged blatant disregard for the laws of our country and standard global business practices," he said.

"The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of US law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng, and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion," Huawei said earlier this week.

Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, with the US seeking her extradition.

Australian carrier TPG earlier this week also said it is ending its mobile network rollout due to a ban on Huawei 5G equipment handed down by Canberra in August last year.

"There's a lot of China bashing going on and Huawei is getting swept up in that and it's frustrating for me and for our global board," Huawei Australia chair John Lord on Wednesday told Nine media.

"I won't comment on the US sanctions because that's before the courts ... but the company does treat it all as a global issue, and from day one, Ren [Zhengfei, the company founder] said we obey all UN sanctions and US sanctions."

As well as Australia, Huawei's 5G equipment in recent months has also far been banned or limited by the US and New Zealand, while the UK's BT said it will be stripping Huawei from EE's mobile core.

On Friday, the New York Times reported that Vodafone has also temporarily stopped buying Huawei equipment for its 5G core network.

According to US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, however, the charges against Huawei are a separate issue from the nation's ongoing trade talks with China.

"Those are separate issues, and that's a separate dialogue," Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox Business Network on Tuesday.

"So those are not part of trade discussions. Forced technology issues are part of trade discussions, but any issues as it relates to violations of US law or US sanctions are going through a separate track."

China Vice Premier Liu He is slated to meet with US President Donald Trump later this week in Washington DC for high-level trade and economic talks.

With AAP

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