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Trump, Trudeau seek to distance themselves from Huawei CFO arrest

The arrest was made at Washington's request as part of a US investigation of an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran


Photo: Reuters

did not know about plans to arrest a top at Chinese telecoms giant in Canada, two US officials said on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to stop the incident from impeding crucial trade talks with

Technologies Co Ltd's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, the 46-year-old daughter of the company's founder, was detained in on Dec. 1, the same day Trump and Chinese dined together at the summit in

A told Trump did not know about a US request for her extradition from before he met Xi and agreed to a 90-day truce in the brewing trade war.

Meng's arrest during a stopover in Vancouver, announced by the Canadian authorities on Wednesday, pummelled stock markets already nervous about tensions between the world's two largest economies on fears the move could derail the planned trade talks.

The arrest was made at Washington's request as part of a US investigation of an alleged scheme to use the global system to evade US sanctions against Iran, according to people familiar with the probe.

Another US told that while it was a Justice Department matter and not orchestrated in advance by the White House, the case could send a message that is serious about what it sees as Beijing's violations of trade norms.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the arrest could complicate efforts to reach a broader US-trade deal but would not necessarily damage the process.

Meng's detention also raised concerns about potential retaliation from in Canada, where sought to distance himself from the arrest.

"The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference ... we were advised by them with a few days' notice that this was in the works," Trudeau told reporters in in televised remarks.


The has been looking since at least 2016 into whether violated US sanctions against Iran, reported in April. More recently, the probe has included the company's use of Holdings Plc to make illegal transactions involving Iran, people familiar with the investigation said.

In 2012, paid $1.92 billion and entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the US attorney's office inBrooklyn for violating US sanctions and money-laundering laws.

An declined to comment on Thursday. HSBC is not under investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

After news of the arrest, Huawei said it has been provided little information of the charges against Meng, adding that it was "not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng."

Huawei is under intense scrutiny from and other governments over its ties to the Chinese government, driven by concerns it could be used for spying. It has been locked out of US and some other markets for telecom gear, but has repeatedly insisted has no influence over it.

On Friday, a person with direct knowledge and a person briefed on the matter told Reuters that plans to ban government purchases of equipment from China's Huawei and Corp <0763.HK> <000063.SZ>.

The Yomiuri newspaper, which first reported the news, said the was expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday to prevent intelligence leaks and cyber attacks.

pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating US laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to in efforts to curb Tehran's missile and nuclear programs.

Before the arrest on Wednesday, Britain's said it was removing Huawei's equipment from the core of its existing and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz, and welcomed news of the arrest and said the world's biggest posed a security threat.

Cruz tweeted: "Huawei is a spy agency thinly veiled as a telecom company." Huawei has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations.

First Published: Fri, December 07 2018. 06:48 IST