U.S. in talks with Huawei CFO on deal to resolve criminal charges: WSJ

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada November 16, 2020.

Jennifer Gaulthier | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China — The U.S. government is in talks with Huawei’s chief finance officer, Meng Wanzhou, about a deal that could see her released back to China from Canada if she admits wrongdoing in the case against her, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Lawyers for Meng have spoken to officials at the U.S. Department of Justice in recent weeks about entering a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, the WSJ said. More discussions are scheduled for this week with the aim of striking a deal before the end of the Trump administration, the report added.

The Department of Justice was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. Huawei declined to comment on the WSJ report.

Meng was arrested in Vancouver, Canada in December 2018. The U.S. charged Meng and Huawei with bank and wire fraud in violation of American sanctions on Iran and has been seeking her extradition.

The U.S. alleges that Meng lied to major banks including HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with a subsidiary in Iran called Skycom in order to obtain banking services. Huawei denies any wrongdoing.

Under the agreement being discussed now, the U.S. would agree to defer or drop charges against Meng if she admits to some of the allegations against her, the WSJ said. She would also be able to return to China from Canada, where she is currently on bail in her house.

So far, Meng has resisted the proposed deal because she believes she has done nothing wrong, the report added.

The arrest of Meng, who is daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, marked a ramping up of tensions between the U.S. and China and against one of the latter’s most important technology companies. The U.S. maintains that Huawei represents a national security threat and has tried to persuade other countries to block the company from their next-generation 5G mobile networks. Washington has also placed a number of sanctions on Huawei that have affected its ability to procure key components like chips.

A number of hearings have already taken place this year as part of Meng’s extradition trial which is expected to continue for several more months. A deal between Meng and the U.S. could bring it to an end.

Read the full Wall Street Journal report here.

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