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US ends case against Huawei CFO who holed up in Canada for three years

Wanzhou Meng hasn't re-offended, so last possible charges have been dismissed

The USA's case against Huawei CFO and chair Wanzhuo Meng has ended.

Judge Ann M. Donnelly last Friday dismissed the case after the US Department of Justice sought that action on grounds that Meng had complied with a deferred prosecution agreement. The deal was part of the long and complex dispute that arose over her role in Huawei's sales to Iran.

The matter started in 2018, when Meng was arrested in Canada after an extradition request from US authorities, who alleged that Huawei had done business in Iran through a subsidiary called Skycom that helped to ship HPE and Huawei products to the Islamic Republic. Meng was accused of making the deal possible, hampering investigations into Huawei's Iran ties, and hiding the role of financial institution HSBC in making it all possible.

As US sanctions prohibit doing business with Iran, the accusations were serious.

But the matter took on greater significance because Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, and at the time of her arrest was a director of the company. China considered Canada's arrest of Meng an affront that elevated the affair from the legal to the diplomatic sphere. Beijing charged a pair of Canadian nationals with espionage in a case all-but linked to Meng's plight.

Meng lived under house arrest in Canada during the resulting complex and lengthy legal action, before eventually admitting to lying about the Iran deals, in return for being freed and allowed to return to China.

That deal included entering into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) that saw some charges against her put on hold in exchange for taking responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud HSBC – provided she not to commit further crimes for four years from the date of her arrest.

Which was last Thursday, December 1.

The DoJ therefore last week filed a submission in which it observed an "absence of information that defendant Wanzhou Meng has violated any terms of the DPA through December 1, 2022." Absent further offending, the feds felt the remaining indictment against her should be dismissed with prejudice, meaning the matter cannot return to court.

Which is why Judge Donnelly dismissed the case.

Upon release, Meng was made Huawei's chair and remains its CFO.

The USA, meanwhile, has moved on to broader sanctions against Huawei and China – most recently making it all-but-impossible for Huawei products to win approval from regulators for stateside sales.

The US has also imposed numerous bans on Russia, which The Register mentions as they mean Vladmir Putin's regime has few likely sources of telecoms kit other than Chinese providers like Huawei.

Earlier this year, former ZTE USA employee Ashley Yablon told The Register he thinks Chinese companies won't be able to resist selling to Russia despite sanctions.

Huawei now has almost nothing to lose by doing so, and execs like Meng know that staying away from nations that have extradition treaties with the US should mean they can go about their business with impunity. ®

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