Meng Wanzhou: Huawei CFO arrested in Canada

The chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei has been arrested in Canada. She faces extradition to the United States.

Meng Wanzhou, also known as Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng, was apprehended in Vancouver on December 1, according to Canadian Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod. In addition to her role as CFO, Meng serves as deputy chairwoman of Huawei’s board. She’s the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

McLeod said the Canadian Justice Department can’t share details of the case. Meng was granted a publication ban after a judge agreed to bar both police and prosecutors from releasing information about the case.

The Chinese company, which sells smartphones and telecommunications equipment around the world, has been facing increased scrutiny in the United States and other countries, where officials have warned of potential national security risks from using Huawei products. The United States is concerned that the Chinese government could be using Huawei’s networking technology to spy on Americans.

The Pentagon in May ordered stores on American military bases to stop selling smartphones made by Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE. And in February, top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency told a Senate committee that those firms’ smartphones posed a security threat to American customers.

Huawei told CNN Business last month that its equipment is trusted by customers in 170 countries and by 46 of the world’s 50 largest telecommunications companies.
“If a government’s behavior extends beyond its jurisdiction, such activity should not be encouraged,” the company said. “Huawei firmly believes that our partners and customers will make the right choice based on their own judgment and experience of working with Huawei.”

Meng isn’t a stranger to issues with sanctions. In 2013, Reuters found that Meng served on the board of Skycom Tech, a company that offered to sell HP equipment to Iran in late 2010 with Huawei’s apparent blessing — 13 pages of the proposal were marked as “Huawei confidential.” The deal reportedly never went through, but it could have landed at least Huawei and Skycom in trouble. It’s unclear if the arrest has a connection to the 2010 sale or is based solely on separate allegations.