A lawyer for Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou told a B.C. Supreme Court judge on Friday that the court has a duty to “police” the conduct of the United States by determining whether it manipulated evidence in an attempt to obtain Ms. Meng’s extradition.
“Judicial review of requesting state conduct is the only way that the requesting state is policed in its behaviour towards its treaty partner,” Frank Addario told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court. “It’s only extradition judges … that can police misconduct that includes a departure from the duty of candour.”
Ms. Meng’s legal team accuses the U.S. of failing to be candid with the Canadian judicial process, and Mr. Addario listed several examples of what he described as willful omissions and mischaracterizations in U.S. documents setting out the case against Ms. Meng.
The defence has asked the judge to determine that this constitutes an abuse of process and quash the extradition request.
Ms. Meng is the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., a Chinese company. The United States alleges Ms. Meng misrepresented Huawei’s relationship with another company, Skycom Tech Co. Ltd., in a PowerPoint presentation to HSBC, a global bank, in Hong Kong in 2013. The purpose, it says, was to evade sanctions on Iran. That put the bank at risk of criminal or civil liability, the U.S. says.
But Mr. Addario said the summary the U.S. gave Canadian authorities was deeply flawed.
It falsely asserted that HSBC could face criminal liability if it were duped by Ms. Meng, he said, adding: “The portrayal of U.S. sanctions law obscured the fact that the relationship between Huawei and Skycom was irrelevant to whether the bank violated or could violate U.S. sanctions law.”
And based on documents the defence team obtained from HSBC this spring, he said it is clear the U.S. falsely stated that only junior employees of HSBC were aware of the control Huawei exercised over Skycom, through a company called Canicula. HSBC had conducted a know-your-client study on Skycom, and a senior HSBC executive knew that Canicula owned Skycom and that Huawei controlled Canicula’s bank accounts, Mr. Addario said.
He also mentioned the two examples that were front-and-centre on Thursday: that Ms. Meng had told HSBC during the Power Point presentation that Skycom was “controllable” by Huawei; and that the two worked together as partners on sales and services, while complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Canadian law presumes that the case against Ms. Meng, as summarized by the U.S., is trustworthy. But the presumption can be challenged if the defence can show the evidence is unreliable. However, Associate Chief Justice Holmes has already ruled that most (but not all) of the evidence compiled by Ms. Meng’s lawyers this spring is inadmissible in the “committal” phase of the hearing – which determines whether there is enough evidence to send her to trial. (Ms. Meng’s statement to HSBC about the “controllable” relationship, and the partnership on sales and service, were ruled admissible.)
Mr. Addario told the court it had not disallowed the use of the evidence to establish U.S. misconduct. The judge was skeptical, and asked him how his evidence could be “immaterial” to extradition and yet provide a basis for a ruling on U.S. misconduct.
Monika Rahman, a lawyer for the Canadian Attorney-General’s department, which is presenting the U.S. case for extradition, said none of the allegations justify “an inference of misconduct.”
The RCMP’s arrest of Ms. Meng in December, 2018, at the request of the U.S., has caused a deep breach in Canada-China relations. China has detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, for 971 days. Ms. Meng is free on bail in Vancouver.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.