U.S. judge dismisses indictment against Huawei CFO that strained U.S.-China relations

By Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday dismissed an indictment against Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co, formally ending a criminal sanctions case that strained U.S.-China relations.

Meng, whose father Ren Zhengfei founded Huawei and is the telecommunications company’s chief executive, entered an agreement with U.S. prosecutors last year for the case to be dismissed four years after her December 2018 arrest.

Prosecutors accused Meng of bank fraud and other crimes for misleading HSBC Holdings Plc and other banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company that operated in Iran.

They said Meng’s actions put banks at risk of penalties for processing transactions that violated U.S. sanctions.

Huawei has pleaded not guilty to related U.S. criminal charges.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn dismissed Meng’s indictment with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again.

A lawyer for Meng and a spokeswoman for Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meng spent nearly three years under house arrest in Canada following her arrest at a Vancouver airport.

She entered a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. prosecutors in Sept. 2021 in which she acknowledged having made false statements about Huawei’s Iran business.

On the day Donnelly approved that agreement, Meng flew home to Shenzhen.

Shortly afterward, China released two Canadians it had been holding, and two American siblings who had been prevented from leaving the country were allowed to fly home.

Meng, 50, now serves as Huawei’s rotating chairwoman and deputy chairwoman, as well as CFO.

The United States still views Huawei as a national security threat.

On Nov. 25, the Biden administration banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from Huawei and China’s ZTE Corp because they posed an “unacceptable risk” to national security.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler)