Huawei CFO leaves Canada after US deal on fraud charges, detained Canadians head home

From The Economic Times: Chinese company’s finance chief secures exit from Canada and her U.S. extradition fight; two Canadians detained in China are released.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou flew home to China on Friday after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors to end the bank fraud case against her, relieving a point of tension between China and the United States.

Within hours of the news of the deal, two Canadians who were arrested shortly after Meng was taken into custody in December 2018 were released from Chinese jails and were on their way back to Canada. Beijing had denied that their arrests were linked.

The years-long extradition drama has been a central source of discord in increasingly rocky ties between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signaling that the case needed to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

The deal also opens U.S. President Joe Biden to criticism from China hawks in Washington who argue his administration is capitulating to China and one of its top companies at the center of a global technology rivalry between the two countries.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant, and indicted on bank and wire fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC in 2013 about the telecommunications equipment giant’s business dealings in Iran.

In an exclusive on Friday, Reuters reported that the United States had reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Meng.

Nicole Boeckmann, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said that in entering into the agreement, “Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”

The agreement pertains only to Meng, and the U.S. Justice Department said it is preparing for trial against Huawei and looks forward to proving its case in court.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the release of Meng or the Canadians.

A spokeswoman for Huawei declined to comment.

A person familiar with the matter said Meng – the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei had left Canada on a flight to Shenzhen.

The two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, had been held in China for more than 1,000 days. In August, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage.

The International Crisis Group, where Kovrig works, said it was “overjoyed” at the “most just decision” to release him, thanking Canada and the United States for their roles. “The day we have been waiting for 1,020 days has finally arrived,” the advocacy group said in a statement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in brief remarks late on Friday the two men had left Chinese airspace just minutes before. He was not asked whether the two countries had struck a bilateral deal.

“I want to thank our allies and partners around the world in the international community who have stood steadfast in solidarity with Canada and with these two Canadians,” he said.

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