Huawei's Iran sanctions evasion trial pushed to 2026

Meng Wanzhou is home, but the case is far from over

Huawei looks set to face trial in 2026 over charges that it misled banks and Washington about historic business dealings in Iran in breach of US sanctions.

At a status conference in New York, US District Judge Ann Donnelly agreed a schedule that points to a trial expected sometime in January 2026, after prosecutors said settlement talks regarding the case had failed.

According to Reuters, assistant attorney Alexander Solomon told the judge that "settlement discussions ended in an impasse. We believe it would be prudent to schedule a trial date," to which Judge Donnelly responded that the beginning of January 2026 would be a "good placeholder" date for the trial to start.

The Reg has seen pre settlement negotiation figures.

Prosecutors expect the trial to last four to six months.

The case goes back to 2018, when Huawei's Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chair Meng Wanzhou was detained at Vancouver airport at the request of US prosecutors, over allegations that Huawei had sold equipment to Iran in violation of trade sanctions.

The actual business in Iran was carried out by a Hong Kong-based company called Skycom, which shipped HPE and Huawei products to the Islamic Republic.

When links between Huawei and Skycom came to light, Meng had made statements to the press and to financial institutions claiming the two companies were no more than business partners, when Huawei in fact controlled Skycom, or so the DoJ alleges.

Meng was allowed to return to China at the end of 2022, after reaching a deal with the US Department of Justice. It dropped the fraud and conspiracy charges she was facing in exchange for an admission that she made false statements about her company's business dealings with Iran.

However, the broader case against the China-based technology giant still stands. We asked Huawei for comment and it declined, but it is understood the company will plead not guilty.

The DoJ added more charges to the case in 2020, claiming Huawei conspired to steal trade secrets from six US technology companies, among other charges.

According to several outlets, the company has a pending motion to split the case, separating the bank fraud charges from the allegations of trade secret theft. But prosecutors have suggested they would oppose a split as they believe the charges are linked.

Huawei has operated under US sanctions since former US President Donald Trump put the tech giant on the Entity List maintained by the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security in 2019.

Being on the Entity List means that anyone wishing to export or transfer technology to the listed organization must obtain a US government license to do so.

The latest in the Huawei sanctions saga is that Washington is considering measures against a number of Chinese semiconductor companies suspected to be working with Huawei to form a covert network of chip fabs to evade US restrictions.

In January, it emerged that Huawei had stood down much of its public and government relations teams in the US and Canada, a sign it has given up trying to persuade Washington to soften its position against the company. ®

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