Canada Has Until March to Assess U.S. Request for Huawei CFO

(Bloomberg) -- Canada has until March 1 to assess a U.S. request to extradite the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. in a case that’s sparked an unprecedented diplomatic dispute as Washington broadens its attack on the Chinese technology giant.

Meng Wanzhou appeared in British Columbia Supreme Court Tuesday where Justice William Ehrcke granted her request to change one of the sureties backing her bail. He also agreed to push back Meng’s next Vancouver court appearance by a month to March 6 to account for the 30-day window that Canada has to review the U.S. request and decide whether to proceed to extradition hearings.

Canada Has Until March to Assess U.S. Request for Huawei CFO

The developments come in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the world’s two largest economies after U.S. prosecutors in Washington and New York unsealed two indictments against Huawei on Monday.

Huawei and its U.S. affiliate were ordered to appear in a federal court in Seattle on Feb. 28 to face charges that they engaged in a scheme to steal trade secrets of T-Mobile US Inc.

The Brooklyn case alleges that Huawei, two affiliated companies and CFO Meng engaged in bank and wire fraud as well as conspiracy in connection with business in Iran. Meng, 46, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities and later released on C$10 million ($7.5 million) bail.

The Seattle case entails a 10-count indictment that alleges the company conspired to engage in a “concerted effort” to steal a mobile phone testing robot T-Mobile created called “Tappy.” The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez.

The indictments intensify the spotlight on Huawei, which has come to symbolize China’s economic rise and challenge to the U.S.’s status as the world’s top superpower. In particular, the decision to prosecute Meng -- daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei -- has riled Beijing and increased concerns around the globe of a new Cold War.

Meng, currently under house arrest in Vancouver, will have several opportunities to appeal. The final decision on extradition will be up to Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti.

Extradition cases “can take a long time” in part because of defenses that review someone’s rights, Lametti told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. He said he would only have a role in Meng’s extradition at the end: if a judge orders her removal, it’s up to him to decide whether to hand her over.

“I only will have to make a decision at the end of the process,’’ he said.

When Meng’s defense lawyer asked Ehrcke if he would also be assigned to the extradition proceedings, the judge said he didn’t know.

Canada Has Until March to Assess U.S. Request for Huawei CFO

"I think that remains somewhat open depending on scheduling,” he said. “I have no idea whether we’re looking at months or years. And maybe you have a better idea than I do, but at this point that’s completely unknown to me."

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