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HomeBusinessHuawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing to be a drama in three acts next year

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing to be a drama in three acts next year

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Bob Mackin

Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing will begin Jan. 20, 2020, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled on June 6.

That is where it gets complicated.

Meng Wanzhou leaves her Dunbar house on May 8.

After a Canadian government lawyer outlines the case to extradite the Huawei Technologies chief financial officer to the United States, Meng’s defence quartet will take over. They will spend three days arguing that she should not be sent south to face fraud charges for allegedly deceiving a bank to get around Iran trade sanctions. They say she does not meet the extradition act requirement of “double criminality.”

“The alleged [fraud] offence could only exist in a county that prohibits international financial transactions in relation to Iran. Canada is no longer such a country,” states a June 5 filing by Meng’s lawyers.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said the case will return to court June 15, 2020 and sit for two weeks while she hears Meng’s lawyers ask her to quash the case because of abuse of process. Meng’s lawyers say police who arrested her at Vancouver International Airport last Dec. 1 violated her civil rights and President Donald Trump interfered in the case by publicly stating that Meng could be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China.

Finally, the third phase will be the conclusion of the extradition hearing for two weeks beginning Sept. 28, 2020.

That is, unless Meng’s lawyers succeed on the double criminality or abuse of process applications.

Holmes largely agreed to the case management proposal made by Meng’s lawyer David Martin. He called it the “tightest, most-aggressive schedule we can envisage.”

Federal Crown lawyer John Gibb-Carsley unsuccessfully argued for a quicker, more compact extradition hearing, instead of the two-track procedure conceived by Meng’s lawyers.

“It’s duplicate of the process, as opposed to committal being determined holistically and at one time and completely,” he said about the defence proposal.

The hearing dragged on for more than two-and-a-half hours until Holmes came back from a break and called the defence motion a “workable and rational schedule.”

“I’m told that’s an unusual manner of conducting a committal hearing. it may well be,” Holmes said. “In light of the nature and particular circumstances of this case and in light of the obligation the court has and it’s been increasingly emphasized by [Supreme Court of Canada] to ensure that criminal proceedings and those include extradition proceedings, move along as expeditiously as is appropriate.”

Max Wang protested outside Meng Wanzhou’s March 6 court date (Mackin)

Meng did not attend the June 6 hearing and there were few supporters in court. She is expected back before Holmes on Sept. 23 to begin seven days of hearings on applications about evidence disclosure. Meng’s lawyers are filing access to information requests to federal departments and may take detours to the Federal Court should disclosures be late or overly censored. 

Similar to previous hearings, Meng’s lawyers did not speak with reporters.

Huawei vice-president Benjamin Howes, at a news conference organized by Hill and Knowlton, read substantially the same statement as he did on May 8. Instead of the Law Courts steps, where protesters disrupted proceedings, the company public relations representative read a short statement in a hotel meeting room and left without taking questions.

“Evidence submitted by the U.S. government is insufficient and the allegations against Ms. Meng are baseless,” Howes said.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport last Dec. 1 and released on $10 million bail on Dec. 11. She is living under curfew at a $13 million Shaughnessy mansion that is registered under the name of her husband, Liu Xiaozong. Guards from Lions Gate Risk Management were appointed by the court to oversee Meng on a 24-hour, seven-day basis so that she does not flee the country.

The incident sparked a diplomatic row between Canada and China, which retaliated by arresting diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. The two Michaels are cut-off from their families and lawyers. They are only allowed a monthly visit from a Canadian embassy official, but can’t enjoy sunlight in daytime or turn off lights at night.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government responded to Meng’s March civil lawsuit that claimed police breached her constitutional rights when they arrested her.  The June 3 filing said Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP officers acted lawfully and in good faith to execute the extradition warrant on behalf of the United States. The filing denied officers searched Meng’s smartphone, tablet or laptop.

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