Four day trial in Vancouver courtroom sees Huawei CFO battle US request for extradition on bank fraud and sanctions busting charges
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, has begun her fight against a US extradition request in a courthouse in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The trial began on Monday and is expected to last four days according to Reuters, amid ongoing calls from China for Canada to release her.
Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities at Vancouver airport in December 2018 for alleged sanction busting with Iran and misleading banks, charges which she denies.
In November Huawei’s lawyers argued that the US extradition failed to meet the Canadian standard of double criminality.
This double criminality standard means the alleged conduct for which Meng was arrested in 2018 has to be illegal in both countries (i.e. the US and Canada) for her to be extradited.
And Huawei lawyers continued this argument this week, stating that because Canada did not have sanctions against Iran at the time Canadian officials authorised her extradition process, double criminality cannot be met.
The central issue is “double criminality,” defense lawyer Richard Peck reportedly told the court. “Would we be here in the absence of US sanctions law, and … our response is no,” Peck said.
“In a typical case, double criminality is not contentious. This case, however, is founded on an allegation of breach of U.S. sanctions, sanctions which Canada has expressly repudiated,” he added.
Peck said the United States cast this matter as a case of fraud against a bank, which he described as “an artifice”.
“In reality, sanctions violation is the essence of the alleged misconduct … the United States has a global interest in enforcing its Iran sanctions. Sanctions drive this case,” Peck added.
Reuters reported that legal experts predict it could be years before a final decision is reached in the case, since Canada’s justice system allows many decisions to be appealed.
Counter suing Canada
The Canadian government is also currently being sued by Meng Wanzhou, and her lawsuit alleges that she was detained, searched and interrogated for three hours in violation of her constitutional rights.
Meng Wanzhou has been charged in the United States with bank fraud and she is accused of misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran, which is under US sanctions.
Essentially, the United States is accusing both Wanzhou and Huawei of conspiring to defraud HSBC and other banks by misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with Skycom Tech Co Ltd, an alleged front company that operated in Iran.
Huawei has always said that Skycom was a local business partner, but the US believes it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei’s business in Iran.
Wanzhou is currently living in one of her two multimillion-pound homes in Vancouver on bail, and is obliged to wear an ankle monitor and pay for security guards.
When Canada arrested Wanzhou, China immediately warned of ‘consequences’, and has also warned Canada there will be ‘repercussions’ if it decides to ban the use of 5G equipment from Huawei on security grounds like other Western nations.
China, it should be noted, soon after arrested two Canadian men, an entrepreneur (Michael Spavor) and a former diplomat (Michael Kovrig).
Meanwhile another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was jailed for drug smuggling, has also been sentenced to death.
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