US dismisses bank fraud charges against Huawei CFO

Huawei CFO US
A giant screen on top of a Huawei store shows images of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, while broadcasting a CCTV state media news bulletin, outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China September 26, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

(Reuters) – A US judge on Friday dismissed an indictment on bank fraud and other charges against Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of China’s Huawei Technologies whose 2018 arrest strained relations between the US and China.

Meng struck a deal with the prosecutors last year for the charges against her to be dismissed on Dec. 1, 2022, four years from the date of her arrest in Canada on a US warrant, as Reuters reported first.

With no information Meng violated the deal, “the government respectfully moves to dismiss the third superseding indictment in this case as to defendant Wanzhou Meng,” Brooklyn US Attorney Carolyn Pokorny wrote in a Dec. 1 letter to US District Judge Ann Donnelly.

Huawei has pleaded not guilty to related U.S. criminal charges.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn dismissed Meng’s indictment with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again.

A lawyer for Meng and a spokeswoman for Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Huawei viewed as US security threat

Huawei, a telecommunications equipment maker the US views as a national security threat, is still charged in the case, which is pending in US District Court in Brooklyn, New York. No trial date has yet been set, and a status conference is scheduled for Feb. 7th.

While the move was expected, it closes a chapter on a particularly fraught phase of US-China relations that also thrust Canada into the middle of a broader clash between the two superpowers.

Meng accused of bank fraud

Meng had been accused of bank fraud and other crimes for misleading global bank HSBC Holdings Plc about the company’s business in Iran to obtain banking services in violation of US sanctions.

As part of her deal — a deferred prosecution agreement — she acknowledged that she had made false statements about the company’s Iran business in a 2013 meeting with a bank executive.

Meng’s untrue statements were in a statement of facts that she agreed was accurate and voluntary and would not contradict.

The charges against Huawei include everything from bank fraud to sanctions busting to conspiracy to steal trade secrets from US technology companies and obstructing justice. It has pleaded not guilty.

In the wake of its alleged activities, Huawei was added to a US trade blacklist, restricting US suppliers from doing business with the company.

The United States also waged a global campaign against Huawei, warning that the Chinese government could use the company’s equipment to spy. Just this week, the US Federal Communications Commission adopted final rules banning new telecommunications equipment from Huawei.

From CFO to rotating chairwoman

Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, now serves as the company’s rotating chairwoman and deputy chairwoman as well as its chief financial officer.

She flew to China from Canada on Sept. 24, 2021, the day she struck the deal. Two Canadians arrested in China shortly after she was detained were then released, and two American siblings who had been prevented from leaving China were allowed to fly home.

A lawyer for Meng declined to comment and a spokesperson for Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Michael Perry)

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