Huawei CFO bail hearing continues later today

11 December 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The US has until 29 January to submit a formal request that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou be extradited to face allegations of doing business in Iran.

She has already appeared twice in court in Vancouver, Canada, on Friday and Monday, where she is asking for bail after her arrest on Saturday 1 December. The US has 60 days from that date to submit a formal request for extradition – putting the deadline at 30 January 2019.

Meng – also called Sabrina Meng – is due to appear in court again today as her lawyers ask that she be allowed to stay in the house she has in Vancouver, with private security guards and a tracking device to ensure she remain within the confines of the city.

She would be accompanied by her husband and children, she said in an affidavit presented to the court in Vancouver. (The Vancouver Sun has uploaded the affidavit to Scribd here.)

Meanwhile information is emerging about the US case against her: that she was a director of Skycom, a Hong Kong company that was secretly owned by Huawei. The Reuters news agency revealed her connections to Skycom in 2013 – when her western name was Cathy Meng.

It is alleged that Skycom was an intermediary used to sell Hewlett-Packard gear to Mobile Telecommunication Co of Iran in contravention of US trade sanctions, thought to be in 2010.

This was the model used in 2011 by rival Chinese vendor ZTE to build its plan, approved by the then CEO and then CFO according to signatures on documents, to smuggle telecoms equipment to Iran against US sanctions. That breach resulted in a fine of $1.4 billion – but only after a climb-down by ZTE, which nearly folded while it was prevented from using US-designed chips and software in its systems.

So far, though, the US has not put a formal case either against Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, or against the company itself.

According to local newspapers, Meng was arrested in Vancouver airport while changing planes on the way to Mexico – though alternative rumours suggest she was going to stay in Vancouver itself, where she has two houses, or to travel to Argentina, where Chinese and US presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump met at the G20 conference later on the day of Meng’s arrest.

It is believed that Meng no longer travels through the US, where authorities began an investigation into the company’s dealings in Iran. John Gibb-Carsley, the lawyer who is handling the case against her in Vancouver, said in court on Monday that she stopped visiting the US since a grand jury issued a subpoena on the company’s subsidiaries in 2017, even though one of her sons attends school in Massachusetts.

Gibb-Carsley wants her to remain in prison while awaiting the extradition case; alternatively, he said, she should be under house arrest rather than be allowed to travel around Vancouver and the area. Meng has passports from China and the Hong Kong SAR and has offered to surrender them as a bail condition.