British Columbia

Former CBSA Pacific region boss denies asking officers to conceal Meng Wanzhou records

The Canada Border Services Agency’s former Pacific regional director insisted Friday she never asked her officers to conceal anything about the CBSA’s role in Meng Wanzhou’s arrest.

Earlier witness claimed she was told not to make records about agency's role in Huawei exec's arrest

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves B.C. Supreme Court during a break from a hearing in Vancouver. She is fighting extradition to the United States. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The Canada Border Services Agency's former Pacific regional director insisted Friday she never asked her officers to conceal anything about the CBSA's role in Meng Wanzhou's arrest.

Testifying at the Huawei executive's extradition proceedings, Roslyn MacVicar denied claims by a subordinate who said she was told not to keep records about the high-profile case because they would be vulnerable to requests under access to information laws.

"I would never say that. I did not say that. And it's inconsistent with anything I've ever said in my capacity as a public servant," MacVicar said.

"I can't comment on how somebody heard something that I said, but I would not have said that."

Passcodes given 'by mistake'

MacVicar, who has since retired, was testifying in B.C. Supreme Court at a hearing to gather evidence about the events surrounding Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018.

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to New York, where she faces charges of fraud and conspiracy in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

Former CBSA regional general director for the Pacific Region, Roslyn MacVicar, is seen in 2014 with then Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney. MacVicar has since retired from the agency. She claims she did not order officers not to create records about Meng Wanzhou. (Public Safety Canada)

Prosecutors claim the bank risked loss and prosecution by relying on Meng's assurances to continue handling financial transactions for the Chinese telecommunications giant.

Meng, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, has denied any wrongdoing.

Her lawyers claim the CBSA and RCMP violated her rights by having customs officers conduct an immigration admissibility exam in the three hours between the time the 48-year-old arrived in Canada and the moment she was arrested and cautioned of her rights.

CBSA officers also seized Meng's phones and asked her for the passcodes, which were later given — allegedly by mistake — to the RCMP.

'Not a single piece of paper'

Earlier this week, the CBSA's chief of passenger operations for the airport said she was concerned about the apparent breach of information sharing protocols and had intended to create a summary of events with a view to detailing "lessons learned."

But Nicole Goodman said she and her immediate supervisor were told by MacVicar not to create any records.

The CBSA seized Meng's phones when she arrived in Vancouver and later passed them on to the RCMP. The passcodes for the devices were later given to the RCMP as well. (B.C. Supreme Court)

One of Meng's lawyers, Mona Duckett, showed MacVicar a record allegedly detailing words attributed to her: "Start gathering, but don't create." 

"That's a direction that you gave that day, isn't it?" Duckett said.

MacVicar denied giving the order.

"There's not a single piece of paper within the CBSA, I suggest, that documents that those passcodes were given over to the RCMP, are you aware of that?" Duckett asked.

"From an organizational perspective, I would have expected that documentation to be available," MacVicar said shortly after.

'Full record of what occurred'

Earlier in her testimony, MacVicar told the Crown she was concerned with making sure the records that did exist were "factual" and that it was important to have a "full record of what occurred."

She said she worried about CBSA officers opining on things outside their area of expertise and of being drawn into discussions that could end up in the media — particularly as the case drew international headlines in the days after Meng's arrest.

CBSA officers asked Meng for the passcodes for her phones when they seized her electronic devices. They later passed those codes in error to the RCMP. (B.C. Supreme Court)

Exactly what happened and for what reasons has been the subject of four weeks of testimony from the CBSA and RCMP officers involved in Meng's arrest.

The CBSA officers have insisted they had legitimate national security reasons to begin an immigration admissibility exam of Meng before the RCMP arrested her. And the RCMP officers have testified that they needed to respect the CBSA jurisdiction.

But the defence has raised questions about where the CBSA officers got the information they used in an exam that included questions about Huawei's business in Iran. 

One CBSA officer testified he was concerned that any delay in arresting Meng could be a violation of her right to a lawyer.

And Meng's lawyers have accused the RCMP and CBSA of feeding information both to each other and to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in violation of international and domestic protocols.

'It's concealment'

Duckett has repeatedly highlighted the lack of notes among CBSA officers.

Her cross-examination of MacVicar culminated in an exchange about the officer who gave Meng's passcodes to the RCMP.

"That mistake has not been documented, I suggest," Duckett said. "That's not very transparent, if it's not ever documented, that's my proposition."

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou wears a GPS monitoring bracelet on her ankle as part of her bail conditions. She lives under a loose form of house arrest. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"I don't understand how that can happen," MacVicar said.

"It's concealment," Duckett said.

The evidence given by MacVicar, Goodman and the other officers will be used at a hearing next spring during which the defence will have a chance to argue that a series of alleged violations warrant a stay of proceedings.

Meng's lawyers also claim their client is being used as a bargaining chip in a trade war between the U.S. and China, and that the U.S. misled Canada into arresting Meng by omitting facts that undermine the strength of the case against her.

On Monday, the defence is also expected to introduce a fourth line of attack around an as-yet-undisclosed alleged abuse of process.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters have reported that Meng is in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring the case to a close through a deferred prosecution agreement.

Meng has refused comment on the alleged deal, and it has not been mentioned in court.


Jason Proctor


Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and the justice system extensively.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?