Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou has reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S government, resolving the U.S. fraud charges against her and clearing the way for Canada to drop its extradition proceedings.
As part of that arrangement, Meng pleaded not guilty in a U.S. court today to multiple fraud charges.
The Huawei chief financial officer entered the plea during a virtual appearance in a New York courtroom. She was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud more than two and a half years ago.
David Kessler, an attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, told the court the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) will last four years — from the time of her arrest on Dec. 1. 2018 to Dec 1, 2022.
A copy of the agreement has not been made public yet.
Kessler said that if Meng complies with her obligations, the U.S. will move to dismiss the charges against her at the end of the deferral period. If she doesn’t, she can still be prosecuted.
Kessler also said that, once the DPA is agreed to, the U.S. will “promptly” tell the Canadian minister of justice it is withdrawing the extradition request.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said she accepts the terms of the agreement.
The matter will be moved to a B.C. court at 5 p.m. ET today.
Today’s developments could mark a new phase in the strained relationship between the Canadian and Chinese governments.
The 49-year-old Meng was arrested at Vancouver’s international airport on Dec. 1, 2018 on a U.S. extradition request on allegations that she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei’s control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
A few days later, Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China in what is widely seen as an act of retaliation by Beijing against Canada.
Questions turn to release of Canadians
Both men were charged with espionage. Spavor has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. Kovrig has yet to be sentenced; his trial wrapped in March.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the charges “trumped-up.” China has long claimed that the cases of Spavor and Kovrig are not linked to Meng’s case.
Colin Robertson, who served as a Canadian diplomat in China, said he expects talks between Washington and Beijing will now pivot to returning the two men home.
“You would get the plea by Meng Wanzhou and then at some later date we would see the two Michaels deported back to Canada, but I would not expect it to follow in a matter of days,” he told CBC’s The Early Edition.
“This would be a negotiation involving Canada but it would be principally between the U.S. and China.”