US prosecutors have charged Huawei’s chief financial officer with fraud, saying she had used at least seven passports in 11 years.
American officials are attempting to prevent Meng Wanzhou from being bailed from a Canadian court after she was charged with conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions between 2009 and 2014.
It is alleged the 46-year-old used Hong Kong company Skycom to access the Iranian market in deals that violated US sanctions.
© Getty Huawei is one of the world’s largest tech companies
She allegedly assured US banks that Huawei and Skycom were different companies but prosecutors say they were one and the same.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver on 1 December and appeared in one of the city’s courts on Friday, where prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley asked the judge to deny her application for bail.
He said that the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei had substantial financial resources and was a flight risk.
Mr Gibb-Carsley said she had been aware of the US investigation and had avoided entering the country since March 2017, despite the fact that her son attends school in Boston.
Meng’s lawyer, David Martin, said: “The fact a person has worked hard and has extraordinary resources cannot be a factor that would exclude them from bail.”
Meng appeared before a packed court room and spoke to her lawyers through a translator.
It is not yet clear whether Meng will be extradited to the US – American prosecutors have 60 days to formally request this.
If an application is successful she faces a maximum jail sentence of 30 years for each charge if convicted.
According to court documents, the US Department of Justice said there were no conditions that would make sure she would return to court.
The US said she had at least seven passports from China and Hong Kong in the last 11 years and that Huawei had tried to move Chinese nationals out of the US if they could be potential witnesses to its Iran operations.
China has called for Meng to be released and world markets are watching closely due to fears that the case could escalate the trade war between the US and China.
Chinese media has blamed her arrest on US efforts to stop its global expansion, while Huawei said it had “very little information” about the case but was “not aware of any wrongdoing”.
Huawei was founded to sell phone switches but it is now the world’s biggest supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies.
It is also one of the leading sellers of smartphones.