By Ian Young
Vancouver: Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has accused the United States of providing a “grossly inaccurate misleading” summary of evidence to the Canadian court hearing her extradition case, arguing that the case should be thrown out as a result.
The new claims in Meng’s bid to avoid extradition to the US to face fraud charges include that the US misrepresented and omitted details of a crucial PowerPoint presentation that Meng delivered to a HSBC banker in Hong Kong.
The 2013 presentation forms the basis of the US claims that she defrauded HSBC by lying about Huawei’s business in Iran, allegedly in breach of US sanctions, and that she should be sent to New York to face trial.
“Ms Meng will submit that the Requesting State’s summary of evidence … is grossly inaccurate and based on deliberate and/or reckless misstatements of fact and material omissions, thereby constituting a serious abuse of the extradition process that should disentitle the Requesting State to proceed,” her lawyers said in a memo, released on Monday by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Meng was arrested by Canadian police, acting on a US request, at Vancouver’s airport on December 1, 2018, throwing China’s relations with Canada and the US into turmoil.
The new claims also allege that the US falsely asserted that only junior HSBC employees were aware of the nature of Huawei’s relationship with Skycom, a company in Iran that the US says conducted business there on behalf of Huawei.
“Evidence will demonstrate that it is inconceivable that any decision to modify or terminate HSBC’s relationship with Skycom or Huawei would not have been reviewed by the most senior management of HSBC,” said the memo.
The memo, dated Friday, was made public after a hearing in Vancouver to discuss the management of Meng’s sprawling extradition case, which has been thrown into disarray by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meng’s team submitted a schedule that would see hearings last until at least May 25, 2021, while the Canadian government lawyers representing US interests in the case proposed hearings until March 26. Appeals could ultimately stretch the case out for years.
But Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes did not endorse either schedule and questioned the order that both sides wanted various arguments addressed.
As a result, the hearing was adjourned until June 23, with Meng – who is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of company founder, Ren Zhengfei – bound over until then.
Meng and both sets of lawyers attended Monday’s hearing by phone, as part of the court’s Covid-19 precautions.
In the memo, Meng’s lawyers also take issue with “false statements” in the US record of the case that “as a result of [Meng’s] misrepresentations, HSBC extended US$900 million of credit to Huawei”.
“In fact, there never was a US$900 million credit facility between Huawei and HSBC,” the memo says. Instead, it says, HSBC and eight other banks jointly provided HSBC with a US$1.6 billion credit facility, of which HSBC’s contribution was US$80 billion.
The claims about misrepresentation in the US record and supplemental record of the case – summaries of evidence provided to the court – represent a new third branch of an abuse-of-process argument by Meng’s lawyers.
The other two branches are that Meng was unlawfully searched and interrogated by Canadian border officers at Vancouver’s airport at the behest of the US FBI, before she was formally arrested, and that the case is a matter of political abuse, highlighted by US President Donald Trump’s comments on it.
“This is a very unusual extradition case. It has been described as unique,” said one of Meng’s lawyers, Richard Peck, at Monday’s hearing. “It does give rise to three arguments on abuse … [one] in relation to the president of the requesting state and his assertion that he would effectively do what he wanted with Ms Meng, which we consider to be an outrageous comment.”
That was a reference to comments made by Trump on December 11, 2018, when he told Reuters news agency that he would intervene in Meng’s case if it was in the interests of US national security or it helped the US seal a trade deal with China.
“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do … If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump said.
Meng’s lawyers have seized on those comments as proof that the case against Meng is politically inspired.
As part of the other plank of the abuse claim, Meng’s lawyers have described a report written by Canada’s Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) on the morning before her arrest, which they say provides evidence of “coordinated state misconduct” between the US and Canada against her.
The spy agency’s report predicted the impending detention would “send shock waves around the world”, and stated that “advanced communication to the CSIS came from the FBI”. The report’s existence was made public last week.
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the CSIS report “shows once again that the whole Meng Wanzhou case is a serious political incident. It speaks volumes about the US political calculations to purposefully suppress Huawei and other Chinese hi-tech companies.”
Meng’s arrest more than 18 months ago triggered a crisis in Chinese relations with the US and Canada. China arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and accused them of espionage, moves that are widely believed in Canada to represent retaliation and hostage taking.
Meng, 48, is living under partial house arrest in Vancouver on C$10 million (US$7.36 million) bail.