Meng Wanzhou to fight with Crown over mysterious bank documents
Meng Wanzhou’s defense team will face lawyers for the Attorney General of Canada this week over a mysterious set of documents that the Huawei executive hopes to rely on in an attempt to avoid extradition to the States- United.
The B.C. Supreme Court judge overseeing the high-profile proceeding is due to hear arguments over the next two days regarding information Meng’s lawyers previously said could overturn the case if allowed to present it in the past three weeks. of arguments planned for the beginning of August.
The contents of the documents – which were obtained from HSBC through a Hong Kong court months ago – have been largely hidden from public view until now.
But in legal arguments, Meng’s lawyers suggested they could strengthen his claims that the United States has misled Canada about the strength of its case by omitting key facts that contradict the prosecution’s claims. .
Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes rejected a defense request to drastically ban the release of HSBC documents last week, meaning their details could be disclosed in court on Tuesday morning when the defense team begins to argue that they should be used as evidence.
Accused of conspiracy and fraud
Meng is expected to appear in person in court this week for the first time in months.
The 49-year-old is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications giant, Ren Zhengfei.
The United States wants her extradited to New York to face fraud and conspiracy charges over allegations she lied to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei’s control of a subsidiary accused of violating US economic sanctions against Iran.
U.S. prosecutors say HSBC relied on Meng’s alleged misrepresentation in deciding to pursue a multibillion-dollar financial relationship with Huawei. As a result, they claim the bank risked losses and lawsuits for violating the same set of economic sanctions.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver Airport on December 1, 2018, after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong, en route to Mexico City and a final destination in Argentina, where she was scheduled to attend a conference.
She has been living under house arrest ever since, assembling an elite Canadian legal team to fight against sending to the United States in a long series of hearings that dissected all elements of the process. ‘extradition.
Meng’s lawyers have previously argued that the case was the subject of political interference from former US President Donald Trump and being used as a pawn in a US-China trade war. .
They claimed that the RCMP and officers from the Canada Border Services Agency violated his constitutional rights at the time of his arrest by questioning him without a lawyer and by conducting a secret criminal investigation at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation des United States.
And they alleged that the charges themselves were brought in violation of international law, which places the actions of a Chinese leader at a meeting in Hong Kong outside of US criminal jurisdiction.
A final “branch” of abuse
The proceedings are expected to end in August with defense arguments over a final so-called “branch” of abuse of process involving allegations of misrepresentation based on HSBC documents.
The Crown will then have the opportunity to plead the crux of its extradition case, namely that the United States has provided facts which, taken at face value, would reach the low bar necessary to move the prosecution forward.
The Hong Kong court accepted the release of the HSBC documents in April after the defense lost an offer to go through a judge in the UK.
Much of the same information was disclosed to Meng’s attorneys in the United States, but the court prohibited them from sharing it with Meng’s Canadian attorney.
Judging by veiled correspondence filed in U.S. courts, the documents appear to relate to HSBC’s affairs with Huawei and its knowledge of the company’s involvement with SkyCom, the subsidiary accused of sanctions violations.
Meng’s attorneys claimed that the bank had not relied on Meng’s assurances to continue working with Huawei and that senior executives were aware of the relationship between SkyCom and Huawei.
HSBC was subject to a deferred prosecution agreement with the US government at the time of the alleged wrongdoing, which placed the bank under further pressure to comply with the rules.
A letter filed in US criminal proceedings Earlier this month, prosecutors claimed that prosecutors had exculpatory information provided by outside lawyers “hired by the bank to conduct an internal investigation into the relationship between HSBC and Huawei.”
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For its part, the prosecution should argue that the HSBC documents should not be part of the Canadian court record, as they contain the kind of information that should be considered at trial, not in a hearing. extradition during which the case record provided by a requesting State is deemed reliable.
Meng’s case shattered relations between Canada and China.
Two Canadians arrested in China in the weeks following Meng’s detention remain behind bars as their fate is uncertain.
China has accused former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor of spying in what is widely seen as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
The two men have been tried behind closed doors in recent months, but no verdict has been announced.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden recently discussed the continued detention of Kovrig and Spavor during G7 summit meetings. Biden has publicly called for the release of the two Canadians.
Meng has denied the allegations against her, which have not been proven in court.