VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – Lawyers for a senior executive at Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies called the case against her “fatally flawed” and full of “shifting theories” at an extradition hearing Friday.
Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and the company’s chief financial officer, at Vancouver airport in late 2018. The United States wants her extradited on fraud charges. His arrest has infuriated Beijing, which views his case as a political step designed to prevent China’s rise to power.
The United States accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. He says Meng, 49, committed fraud by deceiving HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
The lengthy extradition process enters the incarceration phase which involves arguments over the US government’s request to extradite Meng.
Defense attorney Eric Gottardi said fraud cases are normally straightforward, with a lie that costs someone money.
“This case is different,” he said. “The alleged deception is ambiguous at best. The risk of economic loss for the alleged HSBC victim is completely illusory.
The shifting theories advanced by the United States “underscore the weakness of its record,” he said.
“There is no real loss in this case. None of the claimant state’s risk of loss theories succeed. They are all either non-existent or entirely speculative.
The threshold for granting extradition may not be high, but “it is a significant threshold,” Gottardi said.
“A requesting state demands a plausible case. Here we say that the case is far from over.
Gottardi disputed claims by Canadian government lawyers that, in a meeting with an HSBC official, Meng had been dishonest in not revealing Huawei’s relationship with Skycom and that the bank risked violating US sanctions against Iran.
“There is no evidence that Ms. Meng’s portrayal caused HSBC to violate any US sanctions law,” he said. “In any event, HSBC was not exposed to any real risk of criminal or civil liability. “
It was HSBC’s choice to take the money deposited by Skycom and pass it through the United States
“The fact that HSBC has chosen to clear transactions in US dollars through its US subsidiary. . . cannot be blamed on Ms. Meng, ”Gottardi said.
Frank Addario, another member of the defense team, told the meeting that Meng had never denied that Huawei and Skycom “work closely together in Iran.”
She also denied allegations in a report that Huawei was involved in the sale of embargoed equipment.
“There is no evidence that Skycom or Huawei violated US sanctions laws regarding Iran,” he said.
Meng, who appeared in court with an electronic surveillance device in his ankle, followed the proceedings through a translator.
Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes is not expected to rule on Meng’s extradition until the end of the year. Whatever its decision, it will likely be appealed.
Earlier this week, a Chinese court sentenced Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage.
Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig were arrested in December 2018 in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
The Chinese government has released few details other than accusing Spavor of passing sensitive information to Kovrig, as of 2017. The two have been isolated and have little contact with Canadian diplomats.
In another case, the Higher People’s Court in northeastern Liaoning Province rejected the appeal of Canadian Robert Schellenberg, whose 15-year prison sentence for drug trafficking was increased to death. in January 2019 following Meng’s arrest.
Meng remains on bail in Vancouver and lives in a mansion.