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Huawei CEO says banks knew about the company's allegedly criminal activities

Key Points
  • Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei told CNBC that the banks in the U.S. case against the company knew what was happening.
  • It's the first time Ren has spoken on the details of the legal case against his daughter, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou
  • Huawei and Meng were charged with bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in relation to skirting American sanctions on Iran.
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Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei says the banks at the center of the U.S. case against his company were fully aware of the nature and activities of the business.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC's Deirdre Bosa on Wednesday, Ren said the banks "have full knowledge of all those business activities," referring to the allegations of bank and wire fraud against Huawei and Ren's daughter, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the company's CFO.

It's the first time Ren has spoken publicly about the specific details in the case against Meng and Huawei.

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Huawei and Meng are charged with bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in relation to skirting American sanctions on Iran. Meng was arrested in Canada in December and is still there fighting extradition to the U.S.

The U.S. government alleges that Meng lied to HSBC and other banks about Huawei's relationship with an unofficial subsidiary in Iran called Skycom in order to get banking services.

Huawei and Meng strongly deny wrongdoing. Ren added that one of the banks even met with Meng.

"My daughter was in a cafe and said something to the bank officials," he said. "We have to talk to the person who had the coffee with Meng."

Make the facts public

Ren said that if the facts were made public and used in court, the "case will be very clear."

The matter has escalated tensions between Canada and China, but Ren said he remains focused on running the company.

"I don't even have time to attend to my daughter," he said. "How would I have the time to care about other things at the country level?"

In May, China accused two Canadians of espionage and has detained several other Canadian citizens since Meng's December arrest.