During the first hearing of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng, Canadian prosecutors have revealed the charges over which the US is seeking her extradition: She has been accused of conspiracy to defraud banks due to what prosecutors allege was an attempt to cover up transactions involving a Huawei subsidiary that violated US sanctions against Iran.
Appearing in court wearing a green jumpsuit and without handcuffs, Meng reportedly looked to be in good spirits in a Vancouver courtroom where the prosecutions’ case was detailed publicly for the first time. Specifically, the US alleges that Meng helped conceal the company’s true relationship with a firm called Skycom, a subsidiary closely tied to its parent company as it did business with Iran.
Meng used this deception to lure banks into facilitating transactions that violated US sanctions, exposing them to possible fines. The prosecutor didn’t name the banks, but US media on Thursday reported that a federal monitor at HSBC flagged a suspicious transaction involving Huawei to US authorities, according to Bloomberg. Prosecutors also argued that Meng has avoided the US since learning about its probe into possible sanctions violations committed by Huawei, and that she should be held in custody because she’s a flight risk whose bail could not be set high enough.
Before Friday’s hearing, a publication ban prevented details about the charges facing Meng from being released. However, that ban was lifted at the beginning of her hearing. Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday while on her way to Mexico, according to reports in the Canadian Press.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada’s ambassador in Beijing had briefed the Chinese foreign ministry on Meng’s arrest. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa had branded Meng’s detention as a “serious violation of human rights” as senior Chinese officials debate the prospects for retaliation. Freeland said McCallum told the Chinese that Canada is simply following its laws – echoing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claim that Meng’s arrest was the result of a legal process happening independent of politics.
Friday’s hearing in Vancouver is just the start of a legal process that could end with Meng being extradited to stand trial in the US. Even if prosecutors believe there is little doubt as to Meng’s guilt, the extradition process could take months or even years.