Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is out on bail and remains under partial house arrest after she was detained last year at the behest of American authorities, leaves B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, on Tuesday January 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Fraud case against Meng is straightforward, Crown argues at extradition hearing

Meng denies the allegations and is free on bail

Lawyers representing the Canadian attorney general say the fraud case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is not complicated and a judge should commit the woman for extradition to the United States.

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 United States has charged her with fraud over accusations she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei’s relationship with Iran-based subsidiary Skycom, putting the bank at risk of violating American sanctions.

The defence has argued that the alleged conduct doesn’t amount to fraud in Canada because the country has no such sanctions and the bank wouldn’t have faced any financial risk.

However, Crown counsel Robert Frater said the judge does not necessarily need to consider American sanctions law to understand why Meng’s alleged misrepresentations put HSBC in peril.

“Ours is not a complex theory of this case. Lying to a bank in order to get banking services, (creating) a risk of economic prejudice, is fraud,” Frater said.

“Fraud, not sanctions violations, is at the heart of this case.”

Frater said HSBC contacted Huawei in 2013 because it was concerned about news reports that Skycom was doing business in Iran, and Meng offered false assurances that Huawei no longer held a shareholding interest in the company.

HSBC faced significant reputational risk for processing Iran-related transactions because it was already operating under a deferred prosecution agreement for doing business in Libya, Sudan and Myanmar, he said.

The defence has noted that Canada withdrew sanctions against Iran in 2016, prior to Meng’s arrest in 2018, and that the federal government has since encouraged business with the country.

But Frater said what the Canadian government wants is of no interest to a bank.

“The bank has to ask: Is doing this business going to cause us to lose other business?” he said. “The bank is entitled to honesty in being able to assess whether it is going to be at risk.”

At the same time, Frater argued 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.

The defence’s position that Justice Heather Holmes must completely ignore the foreign context is an “absolutist” one, and previous cases instead indicate she can use common sense, he said.

“In law, facts are only comprehensible if they’re considered in relation to the legal context they arise,” he said.

Meng’s lawyers have argued that the principle of double criminality is meant to uphold Canadian independence and values, ensuring that no one is surrendered for conduct that is not criminal locally.

But Frater countered that the judge’s job is not to stand up for Canadian sovereignty — such matters are a concern for the federal government.

Justice Minister David Lametti will make the final decision on whether to surrender Meng to the United States.

“Your job is to determine whether there is evidence before you capable of amounting to some evidence of … fraud,” Frater told the judge.

Meng denies the allegations and is free on bail, living at one of her two homes in Vancouver. She has been listening to the hearing with the help of a translator.

The case has fractured Canada-China relations. Following Meng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018, China detained two Canadian citizens and restricted some imports, actions widely seen as retaliation.

The defence will reply to the Crown’s double-criminality arguments on Thursday.

If the judge finds the legal test has been met, the hearing will proceed to a second phase in June that will consider defence allegations that Meng’s rights were violated during her arrest at the airport.

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.

READ MORE: Allegations against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou not fraud in Canada, defence says

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

China

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

IN PHOTOS: Grand Forks prepares for high water

Volunteers and emergency crews were busy all around the city, reinforcing vulnerable low points

‘Not technically feasible’: Grand Forks volunteers stack sandbags to fill in damaged dike

Residents hoped governments would do emergency repairs, but learned Sunday that it was up to them

Boundary freshet 2020: At least 189 properties ordered to evacuate as of June 1

Real-time gauges on the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers suggested Monday water near peak

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

COVID-19: Closed B.C. businesses allowed to sell liquor stock

Sales allowed to other licensees that can reopen

Most Read