US judge dismisses case against top Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was accused of misleading banks about dealings with a company in Iran

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou addresses a news conference in Shenzhen in March, months after being allowed to return to China. cnsphoto via Reuters
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A US judge on Friday dismissed an indictment against Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, formally ending a criminal sanctions case that strained US-China relations.

Ms Meng, whose father Ren Zhengfei founded Huawei and is the telecommunications company's chief executive, entered an agreement with US prosecutors last year for the case to be dismissed four years after her December 2018 arrest.

Prosecutors accused Ms Meng of bank fraud and other crimes for misleading HSBC Holdings and other banks about Huawei's relationship with a company that operated in Iran.

They said her actions put banks at risk of penalties for processing transactions that violated US sanctions.

Huawei has pleaded not guilty to related US criminal charges.

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

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

Ms Meng spent nearly three years under house arrest in Canada following her arrest at a Vancouver airport.

She entered a deferred prosecution agreement with US prosecutors in September last year in which she acknowledged having made false statements about Huawei's Iran business.

On the day Ms Donnelly approved that agreement, Ms Meng flew home to Shenzhen.

Shortly afterwards, China released two Canadians it had been holding, and two American siblings who had been prevented from leaving the country were allowed to fly home.

Ms Meng, 50, now serves as Huawei's rotating chairwoman and deputy chairwoman, as well as CFO.

The United States still views Huawei as a national security threat.

On November 25, the Biden administration banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from Huawei and China's ZTE Corp because they posed an "unacceptable risk" to national security.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Germany's economy ministry said on Friday that the country would not follow the US in imposing a ban on products made by Chinese telecoms companies such as Huawei, but would make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Berlin's relationship with Beijing has come under close scrutiny since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which exposed the German economy's reliance on Russia for energy and made officials wary of a similar dependence on China for trade.

Germany has come under particular pressure to take action on Chinese telecoms equipment after the US Federal Communications Commission banned approvals of new equipment from Huawei and ZTE because they pose "an unacceptable risk" to national security.

Representative Michael McCaul, top Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Germany was "jeopardising its own national security and that of Europe's" in its decision on Huawei. "Berlin didn't learn from their reliance on Russia for energy and they are making the same mistake by allowing China access to its telecom," he said.

Updated: December 03, 2022, 10:14 AM