Defence Argument in Meng Extradition Should Be Heard at a Trial: Attorney General

Defence Argument in Meng Extradition Should Be Heard at a Trial: Attorney General
Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to head to Supreme Court in Vancouver on Sept. 28, 2020. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER—A lawyer for Canada’s attorney general is urging a B.C. Supreme Court judge to “cut off at the knees” arguments from Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers that he says have no chance of success.

Crown prosecutor Robert Frater told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court that an extradition judge has a duty as gatekeeper to ensure proceedings are swift.

He said an extradition hearing is not a trial and accused Meng’s lawyers of trying to introduce evidence that would be more appropriate for a jury to hear.

Meng is wanted on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, which she and Huawei deny.

Her defence team is asking the judge to allow it to present an argument next year that she was subject to an abuse of process because the United States allegedly misled Canadian officials ahead of her arrest, and they are asking her to admit evidence to support the claim.

Frater said evidence that establishes a defence or an alternative inference of what happened does not meet the test of relevance for an extradition hearing so Holmes should dismiss the defence team’s motion.

“It falls to you to try to keep these proceedings on the straight and narrow,'' Frater told Holmes on Tuesday.

“Your duty here, in my respectful submission, is not to let this proceeding become a trial, not to admit expert evidence on causality in U.S. sanctions law to force us to file responding evidence so that you can decide an issue of which, with greatest respect, you have no expertise.'’

Meng is accused of misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with Skycom during a 2013 PowerPoint presentation to HSBC, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018.

Defence lawyer Frank Addario told the judge Tuesday that the United States describes the PowerPoint presentation as the “cornerstone of its case,” yet only describes part of the presentation in its case summary.

He said additional slides in the same presentation show that Meng clearly described Huawei and Skycom as partners that both did business in Iran, and the bank had the information it needed to navigate trade laws.

“No banker would leave that meeting thinking that Huawei had distanced itself from Skycom in any way material to U.S. sanctions consequences for the bank,'' Addario said.

On Monday, defence lawyer Scott Fenton told the judge that the summary of allegations used to justify Meng’s arrest could be considered an abuse of process.

The judge is considering whether the argument merits proceeding to a three-week hearing starting in February centred on allegations of abuses of process related to Meng’s arrest.

By Amy Smart