Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, is pictured in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Monday, January 20, 2020 in this court sketch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jane Wolsak

Allegations against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou not fraud in Canada: defence

Meng is accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with an Iran-based subsidiary

A lawyer for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou says she should not be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges because her alleged misconduct doesn’t amount to fraud in Canada.

Scott Fenton told a British Columbia Supreme Court judge on the second day of Meng’s extradition hearing that people can’t be convicted of fraud in Canada unless their misrepresentations cause harm or a risk of harm.

Meng is accused of lying to HSBC about a Huawei subsidiary’s business in Iran, putting the bank at risk of criminal and civil penalties for violating American sanctions.

Fenton says Canada does not have similar sanctions against Iran and therefore it’s impossible to prove a fraud case against Meng because the bank would not have faced any risk in Canada.

The hearing in Vancouver this week is focused on the legal test of double criminality, meaning that Meng’s alleged conduct must also be illegal in Canada for her to be extradited to the United States.

The case has severely strained Canada-China relations, with Beijing calling the charges “political” and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland urging the release of two detained Canadians.

Canada lifted sanctions against Iran in 2016 after world powers reached a nuclear deal with the country. The U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018 and imposed sanctions again while also adding new penalties.

Fenton says the only risk HSBC faced was in the United States because of its “peculiar” sanctions that are “out of step” with Canada and the rest of the international community.

“The risk of loss is driven by legal risk — legal risk that only exists in the United States of America,” he says.

He also argues that HSBC faced no risk in Canada because the country would not impose criminal fines against an “innocent victim” of fraud, which the bank would be in this alleged scenario.

Meng denies the allegations and is free on bail and living in one of her two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver. The judge has allowed her to sit behind her lawyers at a desk, rather than in the prisoner’s box, so she and her Mandarin interpreter can better follow proceedings.

China has detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for over a year without access to lawyers or their families and has restricted some Canadian commodity imports in actions widely seen as retaliation.

If B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes decides the legal test of double criminality has not been met, Meng will be free to leave Canada. But if Holmes finds there is double criminality, the hearing will proceed to a second phase.

That phase, scheduled for June, will consider defence allegations that Canadian and American authorities conspired to conduct a “covert criminal investigation” at Vancouver’s airport during her arrest in 2018.

Lawyers for the attorney general deny those allegations and argue that the defence’s focus on sanctions is a “complete red herring.” They say Meng’s alleged lies to HSBC are sufficient to prove a fraud case in Canada.

READ MORE: Meng’s lawyer argues at extradition hearing that fraud allegations are ‘facade’

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clearwater Famers Market looking for help

“The Farmers Market and the North Thompson (Valley) need more local food.”

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Rainer Meat Cutting continues family tradition

Finding a new role in the days of COVID-19

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

N95 masks on the way for Canada after 3M reaches deal with White House

The Trump White House had ordered 3M to stop shipping masks to Canada

Most Read