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US wants Huawei CFO to face prosecution for fraud - court hearing

Arrest over evasion of Iran sanctions

Media wait outside the court.

Media wait outside the court.

US prosecutors want a top executive of China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to face charges of fraud linked to the skirting of Iran sanctions, a Vancouver court heard on Friday.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, 46, who is also the daughter of the company founder, was arrested on December 1 at the request of the United States. The arrest, revealed by Canadian authorities late on Wednesday, was part of a US investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran, people familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Meng arrived in the packed Supreme Court of British Columbia as dozens of photographers jostled outside the building. She conferred with her two lawyers through a translator.

Canada's Justice Department has declined to provide details of the case. A judge on Friday lifted a publication ban Meng had secured that curbed the media's ability to report on the evidence or documents presented in court.

The news of Meng's arrest roiled global stock markets on fears the move could escalate a trade war between the United States and China after a truce was last week between President Donald Trump and China's leader Xi Jinping.

Trump did not know about the arrest in advance, two US officials said on Thursday.

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that neither Canada nor the United States had provided China any evidence that Meng had broken any law in those two countries, and reiterated Beijing's demand that she be released.

Huawei, which has confirmed Meng was arrested, said on Wednesday that "the company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng."

A Huawei spokesman declined to comment on Thursday and said that Wednesday’s statement still stands.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on a conference call that China had been assured by Canada that due process was "absolutely being followed."

Huawei staff briefed on an internal memo told Reuters on Friday the company had appointed Chairman Liang Hua as acting CFO following Meng's arrest.

Chinese state media have slammed Meng's detention, accusing the United States of trying to "stifle" Huawei and curb its global expansion.

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