The court-approved security company that monitors Meng Wanzhou has also been working for the People’s Republic of China consulate, theBreaker.news has learned.
That is “very unsettling,” according to Ivy Li, a member of a pro-Hong Kong group which has protested outside the Granville Street consular mansion.
Video, shot Sept. 28, 2019 by documentary filmmaker Ina Mitchell and aired on CTV News Vancouver, shows two Lions Gate Risk Management Group Ltd. employees standing outside the mansion during an anti-government protest. One of them is the same bodyguard who regularly escorts Meng to her B.C. Supreme Court dates.
Both Lions Gate staffers wore high visibility vests and jackets with the company’s name, lion’s mane logo and “scene security” emblazoned on front and back. They were spotted on-duty at the same location numerous times throughout October, even when there were no protests.
“They’re hiring the same people that are supposed to be watching to ensure that Meng Wanzhou is not going to flee, but they hire the same people to observe the protesters,” said Li, a core member of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. “This is worth looking into. What kind of potential conflict of interest is there? Why the security company and the same persons are playing different roles and how are they going to balance those roles and what is the reason for doing it?”
In December 2018, as part of Meng’s bail conditions, Justice William Ehrcke agreed to her lawyers’ recommendation and appointed Lions Gate as Meng’s round-the-clock security detail. Lions Gate’s job is to ensure Meng does not go home to China and report to court while awaiting extradition to face fraud charges in the United States. Meng is responsible for paying Lions Gate.
When theBreaker.news began asking questions last fall, Lions Gate CEO Scot Filer did not deny his company was working for an arm of the Chinese government, but he cited client confidentiality. The company’s COO, Doug Maynard, responded this week to CTV News Vancouver reporter David Molko along the same lines.
“Lions Gate is hired by clients because of our experience and expertise in providing protective and risk management services,” Maynard wrote in an email. “All services are provided on an apolitical basis in accordance with security programs regulations and the laws of British Columbia and Canada. We do not comment on our clients or the services provided to them.”
Leo Knight, former COO of Paladin Security, said he had no problem with Lions Gate working both jobs: “A professional is a professional, whatever the assignment.” However, a retired RCMP superintendent, who is now a security consultant and private investigator in Ontario, said it “doesn’t pass the smell test.”
“If it was running it, it’s a conflict of interest. I would think that they would have to get clearance from the court,” Garry Clement of Clement Advisory Group told CTV. “The objectivity around ensuring she remains in the country, ensuring she appears in court, that, in my view, has to have an arm’s length from China.”
Lawyers for the Attorney General of Canada, which is handling the extradition case on behalf of the U.S. government, originally opposed Meng’s release after her Dec. 1, 2018 arrest at Vancouver International Airport.
When asked, the Department of Justice originally had no comment about Lions Gate doing double duty, saying that it was not responsible for foreign nations’ diplomatic security. But it now says it is “aware” that privately owned Lions Gate is “providing security and facilitating situational awareness as part of Ms. Meng’s bail conditions.”
The department did not directly address the issue of Meng’s bodyguard also working at the consulate.
theBreaker.news sought comment from the People’s Republic of China consulate, but did not receive a reply.
Huawei’s Canadian vice-president Benjamin Howes said that Meng’s security firm was assigned by the court and the company was unfamiliar with any of their other business.
Private security companies in B.C. are provincially regulated and the court is also under the auspices of the province. A query to the Ministry of the Attorney General and Ministry of Solicitor General yielded a reply stating the B.C. government “takes no position on a court-ordered bail arrangement.” There have been no complaints noted against Lions Gate under the Security Service Act during the past three years.
The Sept. 28 anti-government protest featured a mock funeral for the Chinese Communist Party, just days before China’s government celebrated the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule. Protesters also waved signs urging the Chinese government to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the Canadians who were arrested in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng on the U.S. warrant.
Around the same time that Lions Gate staff donned uniforms and began working outside the consulate last fall, a white and red barricade appeared on the driveway, just outside the compound’s gate. Lions Gate staff also began parking a black SUV on the driveway, to block any protesters from accessing the area, which is under video surveillance from multiple cameras.
Meanwhile, arguments wrapped up Jan. 23 in the first four-day hearing to determine whether Meng should be extradited to face fraud charges in the U.S. Assoc. Chief Justice Heather Holmes has reserved judgement.
Canadian government lawyers, on behalf of the U.S., say there is ample evidence that Meng lied to HSBC in 2013 to hide the fact of a Huawei subsidiary doing business in Iran, in defiance of international sanctions. Meng’s lawyers say she should be freed because the Canadian fraud law is different from the U.S. and that the case is really about sanctions that no longer apply between Canada and Iran.
Among the observers in the gallery at the Law Courts on Jan. 23 was Tong Xiaoling, the consul general in Vancouver, and Hu Qiquan, the local head of the Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence program.
The hearings, which began Jan. 20, were overshadowed by a bizarre display outside the Law Courts by a group of hired protesters.
theBreaker.news reported that two of the protesters admitted they were lured with the promise of $100 to what they thought was a video shoot. Upon arrival, they were given signs that said “Free Ms. Meng. Bring Michael home. Trump stop bullying us. Equal justice.”
The protesters approached by theBreaker.news were dispassionate and lacked knowledge of the case. Actress Julia Hackstaff later told theBreaker.news she fled without being paid after reporters started asking her questions she was unable to answer. She realized that it was not a film production, but a protest. A Twitter video of the protest has been viewed almost 100,000 times.
Who organized them is still a mystery.
CCTV reporter Zhang Sen denied reports by the Wenxuecity.com Chinese news website that claimed the state-owned broadcaster was involved.
“To be the chief journalist dispatched by China Central Television, I can confirm you that I have never known those protesters. I have nothing to do with this farce,” Zhang said by email to theBreaker.news.
There were as many as four people involved in helping recruit the small crowd on short notice. theBreaker.news understands a woman named Helen with a Saskatchewan phone number was actively involved. She has not replied to phone messages.
Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.