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Meng Wanzhou (Chinese: 孟晚舟; born 13 February 1972), also known as Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng,[5] is a Chinese business executive. She is deputy chairwoman of the board and chief financial officer (CFO) of China's largest private company,[6] the telecom giant Huawei founded by her father Ren Zhengfei.

Meng Wanzhou
Meng Wanzhou at Russia Calling! Investment Forum.jpg
Meng Wanzhou at Russia Calling!
Investment Forum in 2014
Native name
孟晚舟
Born
Ren Wanzhou

(1972-02-13) 13 February 1972 (age 47)
ResidenceShenzhen, Guangdong, People's Republic of China
NationalityChinese
Other namesSabrina Meng
Cathy Meng
EducationHuazhong University of Science and Technology
OccupationBusinesswoman
Years activefrom 1993
TitleDeputy chairwoman and CFO, Huawei
Criminal chargebank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud[1]
Criminal statuson bail in Vancouver, Canada; subject of an extradition request made by the United States[2] for which an Authority to Proceed has been issued[3]
Spouse(s)
Liu Xiaozong (m. 2007)
[4]
Children4
Parents
Chinese name
Chinese

On 1 December 2018, Meng was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States for allegedly defrauding multiple financial institutions in breach of US-imposed bans on dealing with Iran.[7] On 28 January 2019, the United States Department of Justice announced financial fraud charges against Meng.[8]

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Meng Wanzhou was born 13 February 1972[9] in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.[10][5] She is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei and his first wife Meng Jun. She adopted her mother's surname when she was 16.[11]

After graduating from college in 1992, she worked for China Construction Bank for a year before joining Huawei, a startup founded by her father, as a secretary.[11][12] She attended graduate school in 1997 and earned a master's degree in accounting from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.[13] She moved to Vancouver, Canada, and obtained permanent residency in 2001,[14] which expired in 2009.[15] Meng also has had Hong Kong permanent residence since at least 2011.[14]

CareerEdit

In an interview with the Chinese newspaper 21st Century Business Herald, she said her career took off after she returned to Huawei in 1998 to work in the finance department.[11] She held positions including head of international accounting, CFO of Huawei Hong Kong, and director of the Accounting Management Department.[13]

When Huawei first published the names of its top executives in 2011, Meng was already listed as its CFO. In March 2018, she was appointed one of the four vice chairpersons of the board, fueling speculation that she was being groomed to eventually succeed her father, although Ren has denied that. He has told Sina Tech that "none of my family members possess [suitable] qualities" and "will never be included in the sequence of successors".[16]

As of December 2018, Meng is the deputy chairwoman and CFO of Huawei,[17] China's largest private company with 180,000 employees.[12] In 2017, Forbes ranked Meng 8th in its list of Outstanding Businesswomen of China, while Huawei chairwoman Sun Yafang was ranked second (Who stepped down in March 2018).[18]

DetentionEdit

On 1 December 2018, while transferring planes at Vancouver International Airport en route to Mexico from Hong Kong, Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States, pursuant to the extradition treaty between Canada and the United States.[19][20][17] On 7 December, it was revealed that an arrest warrant had been issued on 22 August 2018 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York;[21] According to Crown counsel in Canadian court, Meng was "charged with conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions".[22] The warrant was based on allegations of a conspiracy to defraud banks which had cleared money that was claimed to be for Huawei, but was actually for Skycom,[23] an entity claimed to be entirely controlled by Huawei, which was said to be dealing in Iran, contrary to sanctions. According to the defense lawyer, the bank involved in the dealings was HSBC. The allegations were rejected by the defense lawyer saying Meng did not break any US or Canadian law.[24] The Crown counsel said that the case against Meng stemmed from a 2013 Reuters report about the company's close ties to Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech, which attempted to sell U.S. equipment to Iran despite U.S. and European Union bans.[25]

From 7 to 11 December, Meng attended a bail hearing in Vancouver. She was released on a C$10 million bail[26] that was granted with conditions, including electronic surveillance.[27] She was required to hand over her passports, of which seven were listed in her court records. A further passport whose serial number begins with "P" was not listed; these passports are normally issued to employees of the Chinese government for travel related to public affairs.[28]

Under Canada's Extradition Act, the deadline for the US to request extradition was 30 January 2019 (60 days after her arrest);[29] on 28 January the Canadian Department of Justice confirmed that the US had formally requested Meng's extradition.[30] The Canadian government had until 1 March 2019 to decide whether to authorize an extradition hearing.[2]

Also on 28 January, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials released a redacted version of an indictment filed 24 January 2019, against Meng personally as well as three corporate entities (including Huawei) and at least one other person whose name was redacted.[31] Meng was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud.[1][32] (The same day, the US government announced a different indictment against Huawei relating to theft of trade secrets; but that does not pertain to Meng personally.[33])

On 1 March 2019, the Canadian Department of Justice issued an Authority to Proceed, which formally commenced an extradition process in the case.[3][34]

On 3 March 2019, Meng's lawyers announced that they had filed a lawsuit against the Canadian federal government, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The suit, filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court, alleges that Meng had been detained, searched, and interrogated by CBSA agents before being informed that she was under arrest.[35] The civil claim, which names as defendants three "John Doe" CBSA officers, RCMP constable Winston Yep, and the Attorney General of Canada, was issued on 1 March 2019.[36]

On 6 March 2019, Meng had a brief court appearance where one of her lawyers, Richard Peck, told Madam Justice Heather Holmes that the defence would be making a number of interlocutory applications to be heard before the hearing could begin.[37] There was heavy interest in the Vancouver court appearance, with a long line of people unable to get in to the small, packed courtroom.[38] The court's media accreditation committee was inundated with requests from reporters around the world.[39] Outside the courthouse, protestors against the Chinese government showed photographs of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians detained in China, and one protestor burned a Chinese flag.[38][40][41]

On 8 May 2019, Meng appeared before court. Her legal team says the Canadian government is withholding key evidence relevant to how and why Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport, which may have been in violation of her constitutional rights at the outset of an American extradition process. During the session, Meng's defense argued "her case should be tossed anyway because: her arrest was an abuse of process; the fraud charge she is facing in the United States is for a crime that doesn't exist in Canada; and the U.S. government's extradition request represents an 'abuse of power.'"[42] Defense lawyer Scott Fenton described U.S. President Donald Trump's comments suggesting Meng could be part of a trade deal with China as "intimidating and corrosive of the rule of law."[42] Justice Heather Holmes ruled that Crown prosecutors must defend the level of evidence that they have so far disclosed relating to Meng's initial detention by the CBSA and subsequent arrest by the RCMP. Justice Holmes ruled Meng may move to her second Vancouver property. Her next court appearance has been scheduled for 23 September 2019.[42]

ReactionsEdit

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the federal government was aware of the intended arrest but had no involvement in the process.[43] A White House official stated that "President Donald Trump did not know about a US request for her extradition from Canada before he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and agreed to a 90-day truce in the brewing trade war",[44] while U.S. National Security Advisor John R. Bolton said that he knew in advance of Meng's arrest.[45]

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said that Meng Wanzhou's arrest was "a criminal justice matter" that should have no impact on the trade talks between both countries,[46] but Trump said he could intervene, in order to get a good trade deal with China.[47][48] U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added, foreign policy must be taken into consideration in this case, and the mission is "America First".[49][50] The remarks were met by criticism.[51][52]

The Chinese embassy in Canada issued a strong statement condemning her arrest and the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned the Canadian and American ambassadors in protest over the detention.[53][54] Chinese media have alleged that the arrest is part of an attempt by the U.S. to stifle Huawei and its other tech companies.[55][56]

On 9 December 2018, the government of China told Canadian ambassador John McCallum that Meng's arrest "severely violated the Chinese citizen's legal and legitimate rights and interests, it is lawless, reasonless and ruthless, and it is extremely vicious" and warned of "serious consequences" unless Meng was released.[57] The subsequent arrest of former diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing may be part of those consequences, according to former Canadian ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques.[58] Shortly afterwards China detained businessman Michael Spavor, another Canadian national, in an escalating diplomatic row.[59] Their arrests were made under the National Security Law that came into effect in 2015, a comprehensive piece of legislation that gives Chinese authorities broad powers.[60]

China's ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye wrote in a Hill Times op-ed on January 9 accusing Canada of "Western egotism and white supremacy".[61][62] He warned on January 17 that he believed there would be "repercussions" from China if Canada were to choose to exclude Huawei from supplying equipment for its future 5G networks.[63]

Canada's ambassador to China John McCallum said, "From Canada's point of view, if (the U.S.) drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada."[64] On 26 January 2019, McCallum was fired as Canada's ambassador to China by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[65]

Personal lifeEdit

Meng's mother is Ren Zhengfei's first wife Meng Jun, the daughter of Meng Dongbo, a former deputy secretary of East China Military and Administrative Committees and deputy governor of Sichuan Province. She has a younger brother Ren Ping (formerly Meng Ping), who also works for Huawei.[10] After divorcing Meng Jun, Ren Zhengfei married Yao Ling, with whom he had another daughter, Annabel Yao, who is 25 years younger than Meng. Annabel Yao made a high-profile debut at Le Bal des Débutantes in Paris in November 2018.[10]

In 2007, Meng married businessman Liu Xiaozong (刘晓棕)[4] who formerly worked for Huawei for ten years.[66][67][68] They have a daughter, and Meng also has three sons from previous marriages.[69]

Meng and her husband own two multimillion-dollar residences in Vancouver, British Columbia.[70] From 2001 to 2009,[69] Meng was a permanent resident of Canada.[71]

ReferencesEdit

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