Huawei CFO arrested in Canada for reportedly violating U.S. sanctions

Update, 12/06/2018, 03:48 ET: Huawei has issued a statement regarding the arrest of its chief financial officer in Vancouver. The Chinese conglomerate posted the message via its official Twitter account earlier today.

The statement reaffirmed Canadian officials arrested Ms. Meng on behalf of the U.S. and that the U.S. is seeking extradition. Huawei said it has been provided with “little information” regarding the arrest and that the charges haven’t been specified. The company also said it “is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng.”

This is the latest in a long-running series of fraught interactions between the U.S. and Huawei. Earlier this year, several U.S. intelligence chiefs warned against using Huawei products and services because of its alleged ties to the Chinese government. FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the time Huawei’s position as a telecoms operator “provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

Huawei has continually denied any wrongdoing in this regard. It reiterated its compliance with all laws in the territories where it operates in its latest statement.

Previous coverage, 12/05/2018, 18:25 PM: One of Huawei’s top executives was arrested in Canada today, but the move was reportedly made at the request of the U.S. government. The Globe and Mail states that Wanzhou Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia. A bail hearing for her has been set for Friday, Dec. 7.

According to an official statement from a Canadian Justice Department spokesperson, the U.S. government is seeking to extradite Meng from Canada to the United States. The report adds, via an unnamed source, that the U.S. believes Meng was trying to circumvent the current U.S. trade embargo with Iran, although details about this alleged violation were not revealed.

So far, Huawei has not yet commented on the arrest of Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei.

Huawei has reportedly been under investigation by the U.S. government since April for shipping products with parts owned by U.S. companies to countries that are under a U.S. trade embargo, including Iran. Federal lawmakers and departments have been critical of the China-based Huawei in the past, claiming that the company’s phones and telecommunications products could be used to spy on citizens by the government of China. Huawei has repeatedly denied these accusations in the past. 

The U.S. government banned another China-based smartphone company, ZTE, from using U.S.-based parts in its phones earlier in 2018 due to a similar trade embargo issue. However, that supply ban was later lifted, due in part to intervention by U.S. President Donald Trump. ZTE did still have to pay a $1 billion fine.

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