British Columbia

Crown says the U.S. acted 'honourably, fairly' in Meng Wanzhou extradition request

A lawyer for Canada's attorney general told the judge overseeing Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings that the Crown stands by arguments made to justify a request to extradite the Huawei executive to New York.

Huawei executive's lawyers claim the United States misled Canada by omitting key facts from record

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the United States. She has denied the allegations against her. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

A lawyer for Canada's attorney general told the judge overseeing Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings that the Crown stands by arguments made to justify a request to extradite the Huawei executive to New York.

Monika Rahman mounted a defence of submissions the Crown has made on behalf of the U.S. a day after Meng's legal team accused the Americans of deliberately misleading the court by omitting key facts that undermine their case.

Rahman told B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the actions of the prosecutors seeking to render Meng to the United States should not be "questioned lightly."

"There is no evidence of anything other than what is presumed in extradition proceedings, which is that foreign officials involved in preparing the record proceeded in good faith," Rahman told the judge. 

"We stand by our submissions that the requesting state has acted honourably, fairly and reasonably throughout these proceedings."

Charged with conspiracy and fraud

Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of the Chinese telecommunication giant's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei.

The 49-year-old is charged with fraud and conspiracy charges in New York.

U.S. justice officials held a news conference in Washington in 2019 to announce indictments against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou for offences including bank and wire fraud. Meng's lawyers have accused U.S. officials of lying to Canadian courts. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Prosecutors claim she lied to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong by denying Huawei's ownership of Skycom, a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

HSBC allegedly relied on those misrepresentations in deciding to continue handling financial transactions for Huawei through the U.S. banking system, putting the bank at risk of loss and criminal prosecution for breaching the same set of sanctions.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018 as she exited a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong.

She spent a week in custody before being released as part of a $10 million bail agreement that sees her living under a form of house arrest in one of two multi-million dollar homes she owns on Vancouver's west side.

She also wears a GPS monitoring bracelet on her left ankle and pays for a court-ordered security service to track her movements around the clock.

'Cumulative misleading allegations'

This week marks the beginning of the final portion of the extradition proceedings.

The lawyers will debate the substance of the extradition request itself in the weeks to come.

Meng Wanzhou is accused of deceiving an executive from HSBC about the true nature of Huawei's relationship with a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. (Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

But first, Meng's lawyers made a final bid to convince Holmes the proceedings should be brought to a halt because the U.S. has presented a "false narrative" to the court.

They drew on the judge's own words to make their point.

Earlier this summer, Holmes ruled that the defence would not be able to introduce into evidence documents Meng's lawyers received from HSBC suggesting senior people at the bank knew Huawei controlled Skycom.

The judge said the documents might be useful at trial if Meng is extradited, but were not relevant to an extradition proceeding — designed only to determine if the U.S. "record of the case" certified in court holds up when taken at face value.

The defence claims that while they can't use the documents to fight extradition, they can rely on them to prove Meng's rights were violated because that's a separate legal process involving Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In her ruling, the judge said some of the HSBC documents "do appear to directly contradict statements or summaries" provided by the U.S., showing them to be "potentially unreliable and perhaps manifestly so."

Meng's lawyers cited those passages from Holmes' ruling in their argument for a stay of proceedings — calling the "cumulative misleading allegations" a "clear abuse of process."

They have also accused the U.S. of leaving out part of a PowerPoint presentation Meng gave the HSBC executive in which she described the relationship between Huawei and Skycom as "controllable."

'Does that assist my lady?'

Rahman said the defence's arguments rely on "particular characterizations of the evidence, of specific words of the requesting state's argument and theory."

The record of the case is a summary of the allegations against Meng and a listing of the witnesses prosecutors expect to call if she goes to trial.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is surrounded by an entourage of security guards and Huawei employees as she leaves BC. Supreme Court during a break in proceedings. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Rahman said the U.S. is not required to include evidence that would be of use to the defence. The Crown's written arguments say the U.S. has to conduct itself with candour and diligence. 

"A summary, by its nature, is a selection," the written arguments say.

"It is designed to meet a requesting state's limited burden on committal. The mere absence of certain evidence from the summary does not establish misconduct."

Holmes appeared frustrated at times as Rahman said the Crown was in "substantial agreement" with the defence about the duty for candour, but then struggled to explain exactly what that meant.

Rahman said prosecutors would be obliged to disclose anything that could "destroy" or "very seriously undermine" the record of the case.

"It would have to be very, very clearly contradicting the evidence. And not necessarily — it would depend on the circumstances of the case," she said before citing an example.

"Does that assist my lady?"

"Somewhat," Holmes answered.

Meng has denied the allegations. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

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

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