The U.S. government has met its January 30 deadline under an extradition treaty to lay criminal charges against a Chinese tech executive out on bail in Vancouver.
Today, the Department of Justice announced that Meng Wanzhou, 46, faces charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
She's the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, which is the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer.
Huawei, which is based in China, faces the same charges, as well as violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, conspiracy to violate this legislation, money laundering, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Its subsidiary, Huawei USA, also faces a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The latter count relates to a grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of New York.
The U.S. government is claiming that Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. is a Huawei subsidiary. It's charged with many of the same offences as Huawei but not conspiracy to obstruct justice.
“Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes," acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker said in a news release. "As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law.
"I’d like to thank the many dedicated criminal investigators from several different federal agencies who contributed to this investigation and the Department of Justice attorneys who are moving the prosecution efforts forward. They are helping us uphold the rule of law with integrity.”
None of the U.S. Department of Justice's allegations have been proven in court.
Meng claimed in her bail hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in December that she's innocent and she maintained that Skycom is not a Huawei subsidiary.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Skycom was Huawei's "unofficial affiliate in Iran" as it carried on business in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, claimed in a government news release that Chinese companies have broken U.S. export laws and undermined sanctions for years, often through the U.S. financial system.
"This will end," Ross declared. "The Trump Administration continues to be tougher on those who violate our export control laws than any administration in history. I commend the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement, and our partners in the FBI, Justice Department, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security for their excellent work on this case.”
Meng was arrested on a provisional U.S. warrant in early December after her plane landed in Vancouver as she was bound for Mexico.
The U.S. government was required to file formal charges before the provisional warrant expired on January 30 for Meng to continue facing extradition to America.
The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, accused Huawei of "alleged blatant disregard for the laws of our country and standard global business practices".
The indictment charges other individuals who are not in custody and whose names have not been released.
In addition, the U.S. Justice Departmenbt unsealed a 10-count indictment in the Western District of Washington state, accusing two other Huawi subsidiaries of attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice.
The Chinese company's subsidiaries are alleged to have targeted a Bellevue-based company, T-Mobile USA, and then when T-Mobile USA threatened to sue, they allegedly obstructed justice.
The FBI claimed to have obtained emails showing that "Huawei offered bonuses to employees based on the value of information they stole from other companies around the world, and provided to Huawei via an encrypted email address".
These charges have also not been proven in court. Convictions for conspiracy and attempt to commit trade secret theft comes with a maximum fine of $5 million or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, depending on whichever is the greater figure.
After Meng was arrested in Vancouver, China took two Canadians into custody—diplomat on leave Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. They have not been charged but according to the Chinese government, they are being held in connection with "national security".
Another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was sentenced to death after a Chinese prosecutor appealed his 15-year sentence for drug smuggling in Dalian in northern China.