(CN) – Reported to be have been charged with flouting sanctions against Iran, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei faces a bail hearing Friday in Canada after which she could be extradited.
China has demanded the release of Meng Wanzhou, whose father Ren Zhengfei founded Huawei. The company surpassed Apple this year to become the second-largest smartphone maker in the world.
Sources told Reuters Meng’s arrest Wednesday in Vancouver was part of an investigation into a global banking scheme to skirt U.S. sanctions on Iran. Sources also said in April the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York was running the probe. A spokesperson in that office declined to comment Thursday.
Authorities are tight-lipped on the matter, citing a Canadian “publication ban” reportedly requested by Meng.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meanwhile distanced himself from the situation, saying Thursday his government had no involvement in the arrest and only knew about the plan a few days in advance.
Peter R. Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor and current white-collar partner at Arent Fox, explained in an interview that this suggests there could have been an arrest warrant with Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization.
Julian Ku, a constitutional law professor at Hofstra University, described Meng’s arrest as “unusual but not unprecedented.”
“Criminal punishments have always been part of the sanctions powers, though usually the powers are aimed at companies instead of individual corporate officers,” Ku said in an email.
Meng’s arrest took place at an already heated time in U.S.-China trade relations and is expected to worsen tensions.
“Overall, it could undermine the ability of China and the U.S. to negotiate over the next 90 days,” Ku said. “It depends on whether China is willing to let the U.S. legal process work, or whether it will try to push for a satisfactory settlement.”
Neither Huawei nor the Canadian Justice Department returned requests for comment Thursday.