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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou wanted in U.S. for fraud, bail hearing told

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Meng Wanzhou — the chief financial officer for the Chinese tech giant Huawei — is wanted in the U.S. on allegations of fraud, a bail hearing has been told.

Crown counsel said Friday that Meng​, 46, is accused of using an unofficial subsidiary called Skycom to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran from 2009 to 2014.

It’s also alleged she made public misrepresentations about Skycom, saying it was separate from Huawei, when the U.S. contends they were the same company doing business with Iran.

John Gibb-Carsley, a lawyer acting for Canada’s attorney-general, said Meng is “charged with conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions,” with each charge carrying a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

In this courtroom sketch, Meng Wanzhou, right, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, sits beside a translator during a bail hearing at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Friday. She was arrested last Saturday after an extradition request from the United States. (Jane Wolsak/Canadian Press)

American officials are seeking her extradition so she can be prosecuted in the U.S.

The allegations were detailed at Meng’s bail hearing in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday morning. She appeared in the packed courtroom without handcuffs, wearing a dark green sweater, smiling and shaking hands with her lawyer before the judge arrived.

Previously, a publication ban prevented the U.S. Department of Justice from releasing further details about the arrest and subsequent hearing. Several media outlets, including CBC News, challenged the ban. It was lifted as the first matter of business at Friday’s hearing.

During the hearing, Gibb-Carsley said the Attorney General of Canada does not want Meng released from custody, citing an incentive to flee and vast financial resources.

The Crown also claimed Meng does not have meaningful ties to Canada, noting she owns two homes in Vancouver but only vacations in the city for a few weeks in the summer.

Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, en route from Hong Kong to Mexico.

Meng Wanzhou is the deputy chairwoman and CFO for the Chinese tech giant Huawei. She is wanted by the United States for allegedly contravening U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. (fensifuwu.com)

Her lawyer, David Martin, said the court could rely on Meng’s “personal dignity” in trusting she would never breach a court order.

He said private security and surveillance could be an option, if Meng were granted bail.

He said Meng isn’t a flight risk because her husband is in Vancouver.

People walk past an advertisement for Huawei at a subway station in Hong Kong on Dec. 5. (Vincent Yu/Associated Press)

Huawei is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of network gear for phone an internet companies. The telecom company also makes smartphones, standing as the second-leading seller for two quarters straight — behind Samsung and ahead of Apple, according to the International Data Corporation.

Huawei is also is under scrutiny from the U.S. and other governments over suspected ties to the Chinese government and possible links to spying.

Meng is also deputy chair of the board at Huawei. Her father, Ren Zhengfei, is the company’s founder and CEO.

The company says Beijing has no influence over its operations.

News of Meng’s arrest pummelled stock markets, in anticipation that the move would derail planned trade talks between China and the U.S. — the world’s two largest economies.

Canada given notice before arrest

Chinese officials have expressed concern about the arrest, with the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa calling it a serious violation of human rights. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said Canada should have explained why Meng was arrested.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa had a few days’ notice prior to the arrest, but said he hadn’t had any conversations with China’s premier or ambassador about the case.

He declined to give further details, citing Friday’s bail hearing.

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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