Meng Wanzhou’s Legal Team Omits Critical Information in Extradition Case, Government Lawyer Says on Final Day of Hearing

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew is a reporter based in Toronto.
August 18, 2021 Updated: August 19, 2021

A lawyer for Canada’s attorney general says Meng Wanzhou’s legal team is omitting important information in the extradition case against her and is instead presenting an “alternative narrative,” as the formal hearing for the case is set to wrap up today.

Robert Frater told the British Columbia Supreme Court that Meng’s 2013 presentation to international bank HSBC omitted critical information about its control over Skycom, a company that sold computer equipment to Iran.

Frater said HSBC made a financial decision to clear a financial transaction through the United States, based on the incomplete information about its clients, putting it at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, as well as reputational damage and financial losses.

Frater said Canada’s fraud law is clear that actual loss need not occur, but only risk of loss, which is why Meng’s alleged misrepresentations fit into the definition of fraud.

Meng “went to some length to demonstrate that Huawei had a rigorous approach to sanctions compliance, and that Huawei demanded the same of any partners working in Iran,” he said.

On Tuesday, Meng’s legal team has argued that there was an “evidentiary vacuum” in linking her actions to any risk of reputational damage or financial loss to HSBC, and the bank was therefore responsible for its own financial decision.

Defence lawyer Scott Fenton said that the United States failed to provide evidence of deprivation or risk of deprivation—a fundamental element of fraud, and the case against the Huawei chief financial officer should be thrown out.

Meng’s official extradition hearing will wrap up today, as the B.C. Supreme Court judge is expected to consider whether the United States has presented enough evidence of fraud to render the Huawei executive to face charges in an American court.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes, who is hearing Meng’s extradition case, is also considering arguments for a stay of proceedings.

Meng was arrested at a Vancouver airport in December 2018 at the request of the United States to stand trial for bank fraud charges. As the chief financial officer for Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder, the arrest has significantly soured the Canada–China relationship.

Shortly after Meng’s arrest, the Chinese regime arbitrarily detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, on charges of espionage, a move widely seen as a retaliation against Canada. On Aug. 11, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison.

Spavor’s sentence came a day after the Higher People’s Court of Liaoning province in northeast China rejected an appeal by Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug smuggling, but was abruptly increased to a death sentence in January 2019.

Kovrig stood trial in March, but there have been no signs of when a verdict might be announced.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew is a reporter based in Toronto.