First phase of Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing to conclude today

Cheryl Sanders
January 26, 2020

VANCOUVER-Lawyers for Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will respond on January 23 to the Canadian prosecutor's arguments calling for Meng to be extradited to the United States on bank fraud charges.

The Crown delivered arguments Wednesday at a British Columbia Supreme Court hearing focusing on the legal test of double criminality, or whether the allegations against Meng are also a crime in Canada.

The allegation is that in 2013 Meng committed fraud by lying to HSBC bank officials who were asking about links between Huawei and Skycom, a former subsidiary that was allegedly doing business in violation of USA trade sanctions against Iran.

Unlike the United States, Canada had no sanctions against Iran when Canadian officials approved the start of the extradition process, their lawyers said.

On Wednesday, Canadian Department of Justice lawyer Robert Frater told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that fraud is at the heart of the case and by lying to the bank, Meng put the bank at risk.

"This is the kind of case that tests our system", Peck said. "It's a hard case".

The concept of "right" is elusive, but it lies at the core of the rule of law, Peck said.

"It's unique because the risk of economic deprivation arises exclusively from a legal obligation that exists in the USA, which Canada has expressly repudiated", Peck said. "It's extraordinary in that sense".

Protestors outside a Canadian courtroom pressing for the release of a senior Chinese telecommunications executive fighting extradition to the United States were paid actors, they told local media. They argued that the sanctions against Iran were set by the USA, not Canada.

"Canada chose not to follow suit".

If the judge rules Meng should be extradited to face charges, Justice Minister David Lametti will still have the final say on whether to surrender her to the United States.

Frater also said the judge does not necessarily need to consider American sanctions law for the allegations to amount to fraud in Canada.

The Crown Counsel countered that Meng's conduct put HSBC at reputational risk, which means reputable clients may not want to do business with the bank knowing that it has engaged in transactions with a company in Iran in violation of USA sanctions.

"In reality, violating sanctions is the essence of the alleged wrongdoing. There is no reference in the ROC or SROC to any independent risk, including reputational risk, that is not built upon sanctions risk", said Scott Fenton, one of the defense lawyers.

The defense countered that argument by saying that HSBC would not have experienced any detriment to its business in Canada because the business dealings did not breach any Iranian sanctions.

"Milady, in my submission this is wrong".

At the same time, Frater argues that the case law does allow the judge to apply American sanctions law in a limited way as part of the relevant context, in order to understand the risk faced by HSBC.

She has been under house arrest and free on $10 million bail since her detention in December 2018 at Vancouver airport.

Homes said she would reserve her decision.

But if the judge finds double criminality has not been proven, Meng will be free to leave Canada, although she'll still have to stay away from the United States to avoid the charges.

If the judge finds the double criminality standard is met, the extradition process will continue.

Other reports by iNewsToday