WORLD BUSI­NESS Huawei CFO to ap­pear in Cana­dian court

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VAN­COU­VER/TORONTO —A top ex­ec­u­tive of China’s Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd who is un­der ar­rest in Canada is set to ap­pear in a Van­cou­ver court yesterday for a bail hear­ing as she awaits pos­si­ble ex­tra­di­tion to the US.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, 46, who is also the daugh­ter of the com­pany founder, was ar­rested on De­cem­ber 1 at the re­quest of the United States. The ar­rest, re­vealed by Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties late on Wed­nes­day, was part of a US in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an al­leged scheme to use the global bank­ing sys­tem to evade US sanc­tions against Iran, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the probe told Reuters.

The news roiled global stock mar­kets on fears the move could es­ca­late a trade war be­tween the USand China af­ter a truce was agreed on Satur­day be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Xi Jin­ping in Ar­gentina.

Trump did not know about the ar­rest in ad­vance, two US of­fi­cials said on Thurs­day, in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to stop the in­ci­dent from im­ped­ing talks to re­solve the trade dis­pute.

De­tails of the case against Meng, to be heard in the Supreme Court of Bri­tish Columbia, re­main sparse.

Canada’s Jus­tice Depart­ment has de­clined to pro­vide de­tails of the case and Meng has se­cured a pub­li­ca­tion ban, which curbs the me­dia’s abil­ity to re­port on the ev­i­dence or doc­u­ments pre­sented in court.

Chi­nese For­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said yesterday that nei­ther Canada nor the UShad pro­vided China any ev­i­dence that Meng had bro­ken any law in those two coun­tries, and re­it­er­ated Bei­jing’s de­mand that she be re­leased.

The bail hear­ing could be just a pre­lim­i­nary ses­sion to set out a sched­ule, lawyers said.

The Crown coun­sel is ex­pected to ar­gue that Meng poses a flight risk and should be kept in a de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity, le­gal ex­perts said. The onus will be on Meng’s lawyer to pro­vide ev­i­dence that she will not flee, they added.

Huawei, which has con­firmed Meng was ar­rested, said on Wed­nes­day that “the com­pany has been pro­vided very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the charges and is not aware of any wrong­do­ing by Ms. Meng.”

A Huawei spokesman de­clined to com­ment on Thurs­day and said that Wed­nes­day’s state­ment still stands.

Huawei staff briefed on an in­ter­nal memo told Reuters yesterday the com­pany had ap­pointed Chair­man Liang Hua as act­ing CFO fol­low­ing Meng’s ar­rest.

Chi­nese state me­dia have If granted bail, Meng will likely have to post bail with “a surety of sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars”, Van­cou­ver lawyer Gary Bot­ting, who has ex­pe­ri­ence with ex­tra­di­tion cases, said. She would also have to give up her pass­port, he said.

Meng could also be fit­ted with elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment, and the court could go so far as to or­der se­cu­rity to mon­i­tor her while she awaits a de­ci­sion on ex­tra­di­tion, lawyers said.

If Meng fights ex­tra­di­tion, her case could go on for years, lawyers said, point­ing to ex­am­ples like Lai Changx­ing, a Chi­nese busi­ness­man who fled to Canada af­ter he was im­pli­cated in a bribery case and fought ex­tra­di­tion to China for 12 years. If she chooses not to fight, she could be in the US within weeks, ex­perts said.

“You need mas­sive ma­te­rial and ev­i­dence to sup­port de­ten­tion re­lease,” said Richard Kur­land, a Van­cou­ver- based im­mi­gra­tion lawyer. He said Meng would likely be re­turned to de­ten­tion if there was no de­ci­sion on bail.

It is un­clear where Meng is be­ing held in Van­cou­ver. Sev­eral lawyers have noted that de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion are spar­tan and she would likely be shar­ing her quar­ters with other in­mates.

Huawei, which em­ploys about 1,000 peo­ple in Canada, faces in­tense scru­tiny from many West­ern nations over its ties to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, driven by con­cerns it could be used by Bei­jing for spy­ing.

Ja­pan could be the lat­est coun­try to shun Huawei, with sources telling Reuters on Fri­day it plans to ban gov­ern­ment pur­chases of equip­ment from Huawei and smaller Chi­nese peer ZTE Corp.

The news came as the Fi­nan­cial Times re­ported that Huawei had agreed to de­mands by UK se­cu­rity of­fi­cials to ad­dress risks found in its equip­ment and soft­ware in a bid to avoid be­ing shut out from fu­ture 5G tele­coms net­works. — REUTERS

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