China telecoms giant Huawei CFO arrested in Canada

In this July 4, 2018, file photo, the Huawei logo is seen at a Huawei store at a shopping mall in Beijing. (AP)
Updated 06 December 2018
0

China telecoms giant Huawei CFO arrested in Canada

  • US authorities have been probing Huawei since 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran in violation of US export and sanctions laws

VANCOUVER/WASHINGTO: Canada has arrested Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s global chief financial officer in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the United States, Canada’s Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
The arrest is related to violations of US sanctions, a person familiar with the matter said. Reuters was unable to determine the precise nature of the violations.
Sources told Reuters in April that US authorities have been probing Huawei, one of the world’s largest makers of telecommunications network equipment, since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws.
Meng Wanzhou, who is one of the vice chairs on the company’s board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on Dec. 1 and a court hearing has been set for Friday, a Canadian Justice Department spokesman said.
Huawei confirmed the arrest in a statement and said that it has been provided little information of the charges, adding that it was “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng.”
China’s embassy in Canada said it resolutely opposed the arrest and called for Meng’s immediate release.
The arrest could drive a wedge between China and the United States just days after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping held a meeting in Argentina where they agreed to steps to resolve a trade war.
The sources said in April the US Justice Department probe is being run out of the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn.
The US Justice Department on Wednesday declined to comment. A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn also declined to comment.
The probe of Huawei is similar to one that threatened the survival of China’s ZTE Corp. , which pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating US laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran.
Earlier this year, the United States banned American firms from selling parts and software to ZTE, which then paid $1 billion this summer as part of a deal to get the ban lifted.
In January 2013, Reuters reported that Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech Co. Ltd, which attempted to sell embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator, had much closer ties to Huawei than previously known.
Meng, who also has gone by the English names Cathy and Sabrina, served on the board of Skycom between February 2008 and April 2009, according to Skycom records filed with Hong Kong’s Companies Registry.
Several other past and present Skycom directors appear to have connections to Huawei.
The news about the arrest comes the same day Britain’s BT Group said it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.
The handset and telecommunications equipment maker said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and US and other regulations.
The Huawei statement said Meng was detained when she was transferring flights in Canada.
Her arrest drew a quick reaction in Washington.
US Senator Ben Sasse praised the action and said that it was “for breaking US sanctions against Iran.” He added: “Sometimes Chinese aggression is explicitly state-sponsored and sometimes it’s laundered through many of Beijing’s so-called ‘private’ sector entities.”
US stock futures and Asian shares tumbled as news of the arrest heightened the sense a major collision was brewing between the world’s two largest economic powers, not just over tariffs but also over technological hegemony.
While investors initially greeted the trade cease-fire that was agreed in Argentina with relief, the mood has quickly soured on skepticism that the two sides can reach a substantive deal.
S&P500 e-mini futures were down almost 2 percent at one point in thin Asian morning trade on Thursday. 


Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

Updated 22 March 2019
0

Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

  • A Ramallah-based economics professor said the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel
  • Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority faces a suffocating financial crisis after deep US aid cuts and an Israeli move to withhold tax transfers, sparking fears for the stability of the West Bank.
The authority, headed by President Mahmud Abbas, announced a package of emergency measures on March 10, including halving the salaries of many civil servants.
The United States has cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid in the last year, though only a fraction of that went directly to the PA.
The PA has decided to refuse what little US aid remains on offer for fear of civil suits under new legislation passed by Congress.
Israel has also announced it intends to deduct around $10 million a month in taxes it collects for the PA in a dispute over payments to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails.
In response, Abbas has refused to receive any funds at all, labelling the Israeli reductions theft.
That will leave his government with a monthly shortfall of around $190 million for the length of the crisis.
The money makes up more than 50 percent of the PA’s monthly revenues, with other funds coming from local taxes and foreign aid.

While the impact of the cuts is still being assessed, analysts fear it could affect the stability of the occupied West Bank.
“If the economic situation remains so difficult and the PA is unable to pay salaries and provide services, in addition to continuing (Israeli) settlement expansion it will lead to an explosion,” political analyst Jihad Harb said.
Abbas cut off relations with the US administration after President Donald Trump declared the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December 2017.
The right-wing Israeli government, strongly backed by the US, has since sought to squeeze Abbas.
After a deadly anti-Israeli attack last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would withhold $138 million (123 million euros) in Palestinian revenues over the course of a year.
Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through its ports, and then transfers the money to the PA.
Israel said the amount it intended to withhold was equal to what is paid by the PA to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis last year.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes of the fight against Israeli occupation.
Israel says the payments encourage further violence.
Abbas recently accused Netanyahu’s government of causing a “crippling economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”
The PA also said in January it would refuse all further US government aid for fear of lawsuits under new US legislation targeting alleged support for “terrorism.”

Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced earlier this month he had been forced to “adopt an emergency budget that includes restricted austerity measures.”
Government employees paid over 2,000 shekels ($555) will receive only half their salaries until further notice.
Prisoner payments would continue in full, Bishara added.
Nasser Abdel Karim, a Ramallah-based economics professor, told AFP the PA, and the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel.
The PA undertook similar financial measures in 2012 when Israel withheld taxes over Palestinian efforts to gain international recognition at the United Nations.
Abdel Karim said such crises are “repeated and disappear according to the development of the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Israel or the countries that support (the PA).”
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including now annexed east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and Abbas’s government has only limited autonomy in West Bank towns and cities.
“The problem is the lack of cash,” economic journalist Jafar Sadaqa told AFP.
He said that while the PA had faced financial crises before, “this time is different because it comes as a cumulative result of political decisions taken by the United States.”
Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on March 10 to head a new government to oversee the crisis.
Abdel Karim believes the crisis could worsen after an Israeli general election next month “if a more right-wing Israeli government wins.”
Netanyahu’s outgoing government is already regarded as the most right-wing in Israel’s history but on April 9 parties even further to the right have a realistic chance of winning seats in parliament for the first time.
Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014, when a drive for a deal by the administration of President Barack Obama collapsed in the face of persistent Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.