© Reuters. FILE PHOTO Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer at Huawei Technologies speaks with media in B.C. Supreme Court, following hearings about her release from Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Jesse Winter
By Karen Freifeld
(Reuters) – The admission by Huawei’s chief financial officer that she misled a bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran likely won’t help the United States as it continues to prosecute Huawei for the same charges.
While Meng Wanzhou’s admissions last week https://www.reuters.com/technology/huawei-cfo-meng-appear-court-expected-reach-agreement-with-us-source-2021-09-24 go to the heart of the financial fraud charges, legal experts say it will be difficult and perhaps impossible for prosecutors to use them against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd at trial.
Experts say that Huawei could claim what she has admitted to be the result of fraud or extortion if the government tried to leverage her admissions in any negotiation to avoid trial.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn spokeswoman declined comment as did the Huawei spokesperson.
The U.S. court in Brooklyn approved Friday’s agreement to defer prosecution between Meng, U.S. prosecutors and the end of her case. Meng was able to appear via video link from Canada where she has been fighting extradition ever since her 2018 arrest on a U.S. warrant.
Meng’s arrest was a key source of discord between Beijing and Washington https://www.reuters.com/world/china/white-house-xi-raised-case-huawei-cfo-recent-call-with-biden-2021-09-27, and also had repercussions for Canada. Two Canadians detained in China shortly after Meng had been taken into custody, were released from Chinese prisons within hours and flown home.
Meng admitted that Huawei owned a company in Iran and its employees were Huawei workers. She also stated that false statements she made about the company during a meeting in 2013 with an executive from a bank. Previously reported under HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE:).
The statement of facts laid out in the agreement could be seen as an admission by a high-level officer of Huawei, said Roland Riopelle, a New York white-collar defense lawyer not involved in Meng’s case, “but if she is not available for cross-examination, it is almost certainly not admissible.”
Meng https://www.reuters.com/business/huawei-heir-apparent-prepares-life-after-three-years-canada-court-battle-2021-09-24 flew home to China on Friday and is unlikely to return to the United States to help the government in its case against the company founded by her father, Ren Zhengfei.
Meng is often called by prosecutors to appear on the witness stand and testify regarding their deals with the government in other cases. Huawei can’t exercise the U.S. Constitution 6th Amendment right of confrontation against Meng if she doesn’t appear at court. Charles Stillman, another New York defense attorney, stated that Meng’s absence and the inability to cross-examine her is grounds for dismissal.
According to the statement of facts, Skycom Tech Co Ltd was identified as a Hong Kong-based company operating in Iran. However, it was owned by Huawei. The statement of facts stated that Skycom Tech Co Ltd was not Meng’s business partner and Meng falsely claimed that Huawei operates in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, and sanctions.
Meng’s deception was intended by Meng’s colleagues to gain banking services at global financial institutions, in violation U.S. sanctions.
Experts said that the U.S. Department of Justice could also raise the statement of facts in discussions with company lawyers to try and avoid trial.
Morillo stated that Meng could also argue the agreement was a “product of exortion”, as she might have signed it in order to get her freedom. According to him, ultimately the benefit would be negligible.
Huawei should also point out that the company did not sign and will not be bound to this agreement. A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry stated that Meng’s “fraud” charges were “purely invented.” Morillo said, “I have been involved in similar cases to this.” They’ll tell you that this is an elaborate fabrication. It is a product of extortion. We have no obligation to it.
Huawei is facing wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy charges. Meng was also charged. Other charges include violating Iranian sanctions, obstruction of justice and conspiring against U.S. tech companies to steal trade secrets. It has pleaded no guilty.