National Post (Latest Edition)

Huawei lawyers seek new charges

- Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER• Huawei Technologi­es Co. Ltd. chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou returned to a Canadian court on Monday to fight her extraditio­n to the United States, where her lawyers argued she only needs to show supporting evidence to add a new allegation of U.S. abuse of process to the case.

The scheduled five days of so- called Vukelich hearings will help the judge to ultimately decide whether there is an “air of reality,” or possibilit­y that Meng’s accusation­s are valid, and allow the defence to argue the additional allegation.

Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the U.S. charging her with bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break U.S. sanction law.

The daughter of billionair­e Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extraditio­n from her house arrest in Vancouver.

Meng arrived at the British Columbia Supreme Court wearing the ankle monitoring bracelet she has worn since her bail was granted in December 2018.

Scott Fenton, a lawyer for Meng, pointed out in court that the hearing wasn’t intended to be a “detailed examinatio­n” of the allegation, only whether there was a “realistic possibilit­y” that it could be sustained.

Fenton said the “elephant in the room” was that Meng and Huawei had not lied and had instead given HSBC all the informatio­n needed to assess the risk, contrary to U.S. claims.

The arrest has strained China’s relations with the U.S. and Canada. Soon after Meng’s detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage.

In previously submitted court documents, Huawei lawyers argued that the U.S. extraditio­n request was flawed because it omitted key evidence showing Meng didn’t lie to HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran.

They used a Powerpoint presentati­on to show HSBC knew the extent of Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, which they say the U.S. didn’t accurately portray in its extraditio­n request to Canada.

Meng’s lawyers claim the case that the U.S. submitted to Canada is“so replete with intentiona­l and reckless error” that it violates her rights.

Ultimately, Fenton said they’ll ask for a stay of the extraditio­n or an exclusion of evidence they argue is misleading, although he emphasized that this would come later should the judge approve their request.

Vukelich hearings are rare in extraditio­n cases, said Gary Botting, an extraditio­n lawyer based in Vancouver, but given the complexity of Meng’s case it’s not surprising.

Meng’s extraditio­n trial is set to wrap up in April 2021, although if either side appeals the case, it could drag on for years through the Canadian justice system.

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