Navigant Experts Comment on Criminal Investigations on Huawei's CFO

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, also known as Cathy Meng and Sabrina Meng, was arrested in Vancouver, Canada, and is facing extradition to the U.S. Reports say that the arrest relates to allegations that Huawei has breached U.S. sanctions on exports to Iran. This is the latest move by the Trump administration to crack down on large Chinese technology companies after ZTE, another Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, pleaded guilty on sanctions violations last year.

Huawei is the world’s largest telecoms equipment provider, and its second largest mobile phone manufacturer – it is a pillar of the Chinese economy. Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of the company’s father, Ren Zhengfei, a former military officer.

The arrest comes amid the heightened tension between the U.S. and China, as the two countries have struggled to resolve their trade disputes that have escalated though several reciprocal tariffs that have hampered global trade.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Alma Angotti, managing director and co-lead of the global investigations and compliance practice at Navigant said, “You can see a gradual progression from the ZTE sanctions case…which shows that [Washington is] taking violations of U.S. Sanctions incredibly seriously."

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Joseph Campbell, director at Navigant and former assistant director of the criminal investigative division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that “Chinese authorities could also pressure foreign firms by blocking government access, approvals, business transactions and the shipment of goods.”

Huawei mentioned on Saturday that it had terminated the employment of a Chinese worker arrested on spying allegations. Polish authorities detained Wang Wijing, a former Polish security official, who reportedly worked for Orange Polska, on charges of spying for Beijing. 

Ties between the US and China have become increasingly strained since Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou in December at the request of US authorities. A New York Post report has indicated that that President Donald Trump is considering signing another executive order to ban US companies from using Chinese-made telecommunications equipment. Navigant's Alma Angotti, told Euronews that "a lot of countries are now focusing on a very broad view of their national security, beyond traditional weapons and borders." 


Related coverage:

Huawei sacks employee arrested on spying charges in Poland

Top exec allegedly tricked banks into violating sanctions

Huawei arrest sparks retaliation fears among U.S., European companies

U.S. may use arrest of Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng to push China on trade

Economic sanctions are the very tool of US foreign policy and national security. We take it very seriously. 

Alma Angotti
Managing Director and Global Investigations and Compliance Co-Lead

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