Biden commerce nominee signed agreement that cleared Huawei CFO of fraud charges
Thea Kendler's position would be in the office that is 'vital to controlling exports to China'
President Biden's nominee for a key Department of Commerce (DOC) position signed an agreement that cleared the Huawei chief financial officer (CFO) of fraud charges, Fox Business has learned.
Thea Kendler, the president’s nominee to be the DOC’s assistant secretary for export administration, was serving on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) prosecution team of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO for the Chinese telecommunications company.
Meng was released from Canadian custody in September after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ — an agreement Kendler signed one day after her Senate nomination hearing.
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A deferred prosecution agreement is a form of legal adjudication that eventually drops charges against a defendant should they fulfill their side of the bargain in the agreement.
Should Kendler be confirmed, she would be a major player in the office of the DOC that is "vital to controlling exports to China," and is responsible for export licenses, treaty compliance, and treaty obligations.
Meng was hit with "charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and wire fraud," according to a DOJ press release.
The terms of Meng’s deferred prosecution agreement were light, however, only requiring the Chinese national charged with defrauding financial institutions to agree to a "four-page statement of facts that details the knowingly false statements" to one of the financial institutions in the case.
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The only other stipulation of Meng’s deal with the government was an agreement "not to commit other federal, state or local crimes."
Sen. Bill Hagerty's, R-Tenn., spokesperson told Fox Business that Hagerty wants to "understand" the negotiations that led to the deferred prosecution agreement.
"Senator Hagerty wants to understand the interagency process and negotiations with Communist China and others, including Thea Kendler’s role at the Justice Department, that led to the deferred prosecution agreement for Huawei CFO’s Meng Wanzhou," Hagerty's spokesperson said.
Hagerty blasted the deal after the initial release, saying he was "very concerned that this appears, that it could be more appeasement from the Biden Administration, more capitulation."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also criticized the release in September, saying it "raises serious questions about President Biden's ability and willingness to confront the threat posed by Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party."
Last month, Biden signed into law the "Secure Equipment Act," bipartisan legislation that would ban the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from authorizing "application for equipment that is on the list of covered communications equipment or services." The FCC unanimously voted last year to classify Huawei and ZTE as national security threats.
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A White House official defended Kendler's nomination by telling Fox Business that Kendler is a career DOJ prosecutor and that she has support from Republicans and Democrats. The official also said this issue was not discussed during the confirmation hearing.
The Department of Commerce didn't respond to Fox Business' request for comment.