Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO, and the US Department of Justice reached an agreement on Friday to postpone prosecution of US charges against her until late 2022, after which the charges could be dropped.
The agreement, which allows Meng to return to China, could bring an end to a nearly three-year legal saga that has strained relations between the US and China.
Meng departed Canada on a Chinese government-chartered flight on Friday, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
Meng described tearing up as her flight from Vancouver to Shenzhen crossed the North Pole and praised China’s ruling Communist Party in a lengthy post on her WeChat account on Saturday. The post, which is not open to the public, has been seen by a CNN source.
“As we get closer to home, I feel increasingly emotional, with tears welling up in my eyes. Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, our motherland is moving toward prosperity. Without this strong motherland, I wouldn’t have my freedom today,” she wrote. “I thank my beloved motherland, and I thank the Party and the government … for shining a light during my darkest hours and guiding me in my long journey home.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that two Canadians who had been detained by China for nearly three years had been released as well.
The US case focused on whether Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with an Iranian subsidiary, Skycom, putting the bank at risk of sanctions violations, as the US alleges.
Meng pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud in a virtual courtroom in Brooklyn, New York.
Meng, on the other hand, confirmed that the facts stated in the deferred prosecution agreement are correct as part of the deal. According to court documents, one of those facts is that she misrepresented Huawei’s relationship with Skycom to HSBC. If she says or implies anything else, she risks breaking the terms of the agreement and being prosecuted.
“In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution,” Acting US Attorney Boeckmann said in a statement Friday.
The factual statement Meng admits to could help the US in its ongoing case against Huawei. (Huawei did not respond to a request for comment for this story.)
The parties had agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement until December 1, 2022, according to Assistant US Attorney David Kessler. The US government will dismiss the charges against Meng on that date if she complies with the terms of the agreement.
During the Friday hearing, District Judge Ann Donnelly accepted the deferred prosecution agreement.