British Columbia

Meng Wanzhou's lawyers claim extradition case riddled with misrepresentations

Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou claim American prosecutors omitted facts that seriously undermine the case against the Huawei executive when they enlisted Canada’s attorney general in the fight to extradite Meng to New York to face charges of fraud and conspiracy.

Court documents filed ahead of hearing next month seek to introduce new evidence for defence claims

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition to the United States where she faces charges of fraud and conspiracy. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou claim American prosecutors omitted facts that seriously undermine the case against the Huawei executive when they enlisted Canada's attorney general in the fight to extradite Meng to New York to face charges of fraud and conspiracy.

In documents released late Friday, Meng's defence team presented seven new pieces of evidence it wants B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes to consider next month when lawyers for the chief financial officer will argue to have the case tossed out.

The defence lawyers claim the record of the case the U.S. provided to the Crown to justify extradition to New York on charges of fraud and conspiracy is riddled with misrepresentations.

"The purpose of admitting this evidence is to allow for a meaningful judicial process," the defence team writes in a submission accompanying the new documents.

Meng's lawyers claim they can prove the Crown's case "is defective and manifestly unreliable." 

PowerPoint omissions

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong, en route to Mexico and Argentina.

She is accused of lying to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's relationship with Skycom, a company accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

Prosecutors claim Meng Wanzhou lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei's relationship with a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Prosecutors claim assurances contained in Meng's PowerPoint presentation convinced the banker that HSBC wouldn't risk violating those same sanctions if the bank continued to provide financing to Huawei through the U.S. banking system.

HSBC was in a particularly vulnerable position at the time because the bank was bound by the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. because of previous violations.

The defence team's new evidence is intended to rebut the so-called "record of the case" that makes up the bedrock of the extradition request.

Meng's lawyers claim prosecutors omitted key parts of the PowerPoint in the version of the case they provided to Canadian authorities, and that those missing slides prove that Meng was upfront about Huawei's relationship with SkyCom.

"No banker would leave the meeting thinking that Huawei had distanced itself from SkyCom," the defence team claims.

"More important, a banker would have left the meeting knowing that Huawei and SkyCom were working together in Iran and that Huawei exercised control over SkyCom's compliance with trade and export control laws."

Assertion 'not supported'

The other evidence the defence wants to introduce includes an affidavit from a banking expert who claims HSBC routinely conducts U.S. dollar transactions through Hong Kong without touching the American banking system — and could have done so with no risk in relation to Huawei.

Meng's lawyers claim other affidavits will show that a HSBC​​​​​​​ vice-president was aware of the relationship between Huawei and SkyCom, despite the fact the U.S. record of the case says only junior employees knew that the telecommunications giant controlled SkyCom's bank accounts.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, both pictured in file photos from 2020. Meng's lawyers accuse Trump of using the 48-year-old as a political pawn. (Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters)

The new evidence includes an affidavit from John Bellinger, a former senior associate counsel to the George W. Bush White House who claims the U.S. government has never imposed criminal or civil sanctions on a financial institution for being deceived by a third party into violating economic sanctions.

"Any assertion that Ms. Meng would have put the bank in legal jeopardy … is not supported by past U.S. government practice," Bellinger writes.

A push for information

The new evidence is intended to support one of three sets of arguments the defence hopes to make in a bid to have the extradition case against Meng tossed out. The lawyers also claim she is being used a political pawn and that American and Canadian authorities conspired to mount a covert investigation against Meng at the time of her arrest. 

The 48-year-old's lawyers will appear before Holmes next week to argue for the release of information redacted from documents the Crown has provided the defence team related to the conspiracy argument.

That hearing is expected to last a week. Meng is planning to appear by phone.

The defence will make further arguments about the new evidence and affidavits in September.

Meng is currently living under a form of house arrest in Vancouver after being released on $10 million bail in the weeks after her initial arrest. She is required to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet and is tailed by around the clock private security.


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.


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