World

US accuses Huawei CFO of Iran cover-up

By AAP Newswire

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's chief financial officer faces US accusations that she covered up her company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions, a Canadian prosecutor has said, arguing against giving her bail while she awaits extradition.

After nearly six hours of arguments and counter-arguments, no decision was reached and the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

The case against Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei, stems from a 2013 Reuters report about the company's close ties to Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech Co Ltd, which attempted to sell US equipment to Iran despite US and European Union bans, the prosecutor told a Vancouver court.

US prosecutors argue that Meng was not truthful to banks who asked her about links between the two firms, the court heard on Friday.

If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, the court heard, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.

Meng, 46, was arrested in Canada on December 1 at the request of the United States. The arrest was on the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump met in Argentina with China's Xi Jinping to look for ways to resolve an escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The news of her arrest has roiled stock markets and drawn condemnation from Chinese authorities, although Trump and his top economic advisers have downplayed its importance to trade talks after the two leaders agreed to a truce.

A spokesman for Huawei had no immediate comment on the case against Meng on Friday. The company has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations.

Friday's court hearing is intended to decide on whether Meng can post bail or if she is a flight risk and should be kept in detention.

The prosecutor opposed bail, arguing that Meng was a high flight risk with few ties to Vancouver and that her family's wealth would mean than even a multi-million-dollar surety would not weigh heavily should she breach conditions.

Meng's lawyer, David Martin, said her prominence made it unlikely she would breach any court orders.

"You can trust her," he said. Fleeing "would humiliate and embarrass her father, whom she loves," he argued.

The United States has 60 days to make a formal extradition request, which a Canadian judge will weigh to determine whether the case against Meng is strong enough. Then it is up to Canada's justice minister to decide whether to extradite her.

A spokesman for Huawei said on Friday that the company has "every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion".

The company has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations.