The U.S. Justice Department is talking to representatives of Meng Wanzhou that would see the Chinese telecom executive free to return home from Canada in exchange for signing a deferred prosecution agreement, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., was detained in December 2018 while she was changing planes in Vancouver. She was arrested on an U.S. extradition request over allegations of wire and bank fraud charges related to alleged violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
She has consistently denied the charges against her.
Shortly after that arrest, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China, where they remain in detention and face charges of spying for Canada.
China has since placed a number of trade hurdles in front of Canadian exporters — banning imports from two canola producers, tying up shipments over paperwork and putting unusual obstacles in the way of Canadian soybean and pea exporters.
In a report in the Wall Street Journal — which CBC had not independently verified — sources say the agreement with Meng would require her to admit to criminal wrongdoing.
The newspaper reports that if she does that, U.S. prosecutors would defer the charges against her, and could even drop them at a later date.
The report also says the proposed deal could pave the way for China to return Kovrig and Spavor, which is a factor that is in part motivating the discussions, according to the paper’s sources.
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics on Thursday that he is aware of the report but could not comment.
Canada’s former ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, said the stand-off between China and Canada appears to be getting closer to a resolution.
“Assuming that Ms. Meng can get to an agreement with the [U.S. Department of Justice] we will still have to find a way to get the two Michaels out, because I am sure that China may want to extract something in exchange,” Saint-Jacques told host Catherine Cullen.
Saint-Jacques said he was sure that Ottawa has been keeping pressure on Washington to help Canada out of what he called a “nightmare.”
Meng’s legal team would not comment on the story.