U.S. formally drops charges against Meng Wanzhou

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou | Chuck Chiang, BIV

It is only 73 words, but the court order means the end of the Meng Wanzhou legal saga.

Under the terms of a September 2021 deferred prosecution agreement, charges against the Huawei chief financial officer, the Chinese tech giant’s rotating chair since April, were formally dropped Friday in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York.

“It is hereby ordered that the third superseding indictment in the above-captioned matter as to the defendant Wanzhou Meng is hereby dismissed with prejudice,” said the key sentence in the legal document.

Meng had agreed to not commit other federal, state or local crimes before Dec. 1, 2022, the fourth anniversary of her arrest at Vancouver International Airport, where Canadian officials executed a warrant on behalf of the U.S. government.

The extradition battle that played out in B.C. Supreme Court strained relations between Canada and China after China took Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor hostage in retaliation.

Meng pleaded not guilty during a virtual court hearing on Sept. 24, 2021. She agreed to a 1,634-word statement of facts that outlined the charges against Huawei and Meng for deceiving HSBC about a Huawei subsidiary in Iran in order to evade U.S. sanctions and gain loans.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicole Broeckmann said at the time: “In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”

The end of the U.S. action on Sept. 24, 2021 triggered the end of Meng’s court-ordered house arrest at her Shaughnessy mansion and allowed her to depart on an Air China charter for Shenzhen. Kovrig and Spavor were freed the same day and arrived home the next morning.

Almost eight months later, on May 20, 2022, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne finally announced Canada had banned Huawei and ZTE from equipping Canada’s 5G networks. Canada was the last member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to ban Huawei. The other members are U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand.