By: Danielle Hatch
On December 1, 2018 Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, Canada at the request of the United State. Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of telecom network equipment and the second biggest smartphone seller across many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The US is accusing Meng and Huawei of defrauding several banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered, by hiding payments from Iran in violation of US sanctions regulations. US officials believe that Huawei was trying to use the banks to move money out of Iran in addition to possible illegal exports to Iran and other sanctioned countries since 2016. The US case against Meng involves Skycom Tech Co. Ltd, which has been described as one of Hauawei’s “major local partners” in Iran, the company often used Skycom Tech’s Tehran office to provide mobile network equipment to major telecommunications companies in Iran. Reuters has reported that Skycom was more of an “unofficial subsidiary” of Huawei and basically conducted business in Iran for Huawei. The US believes that Meng and other Huawei representatives misled banks about Huawei’s control of Skycom so that they could gain access to more than $100 million worth of transactions related to Skycom.
Huawei has said that its Iran operations were “in strict compliance with applicable laws, regulations and sanctions” of the United Nations, United States and European Union, according to Canadian court documents that were released earlier this month. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said, “The actions of the US seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty.”
If the case makes it to the US (depending on Canada), it will likely involve several government forces including the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), and US Customs Enforcement.