A realtor, a neighbour and former colleagues of Meng Wanzhou have collectively pledged more than $3-million to vouch for the Huawei executive’s good character, according to court affidavits that shed some light on her friendships in Vancouver.
Ms. Meng was arrested while transiting through Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities, who want to extradite her to face charges of allegedly conspiring to defraud financial institutions into violating U.S. trade sanctions. She was released from prison last week on a number of conditions and $10-million bail that included $3-million from people who put their homes, retirement savings and reputations on the line for her.
Bob Cheng, a former manager at a health and dental data centre, wrote in an affidavit that he met Ms. Meng and her husband in 2009, shortly after he began a second career as a realtor. That year, he sold them their first Vancouver home for $2.7-million, a residence in the wealthy Dunbar neighbourhood, where Ms. Meng has been ordered to stay until her extradition is resolved. He also represented the couple two years ago in the purchase of a $15-million mansion in Shaughnessy and has helped with the maintenance of both properties during the half of the year they are unoccupied, according to court documents.
Mr. Cheng, who has lived in Canada for 40 years, said he has become good friends with Ms. Meng and her husband, Liu Xiaozong, they get together every year when the couple is in town and he has keys to their houses. Mr. Cheng pledged the entire value of his home, assessed at $1.8-million.
The person who contributed the second-largest amount is listed as the wife of a former Huawei employee, a homemaker who has lived in the country since 2009. Her affidavit states that her husband worked at Huawei for nine years before leaving to start his own company.
“During my husband’s time working at Huawei, he knew Ms. Meng well and Ms. Meng had treated him very well,” wrote the woman, whose name is redacted from the document. She pledged about $850,000, which is 30 per cent of the net equity value of their home.
A Canadian couple from Surrey pledged $500,000 from the total net equity of their home. According to their affidavit, one person in the relationship is a former Huawei employee, becoming fast friends with Ms. Meng when they met in the mid-1990s.
“My time at Huawei was an excellent experience for me, and one of the most meaningful life experiences for our family,” the former employee wrote. “During my time at Huawei, I got to know Ms. Meng [on a] more personal level and we both travelled to Moscow in 1991 on a Huawei business trip.”
Another surety is a long-time friend who says she met Ms. Meng in Shenzhen, China, about 23 years ago. She has lived in Canada for 15 years, works as a part-time yoga instructor and is married to a business consultant. She has become close friends with Ms. Meng and Mr. Liu, and has travelled to Alaska with Mr. Liu’s parents.
“I have come to know and trust Ms. Meng and believe she is a person of integrity and good character,” wrote the woman, who pledged $50,000 out of her retirement savings.
“The impact to me and my family of the loss of $50,000 would be very big,” she wrote.
The sureties have promised to maintain regular contact with Ms. Meng to ensure she complies with bail conditions that include 24-hour surveillance, wearing a GPS ankle bracelet and staying away from the airport. They could lose the amounts pledged if Ms. Meng were to breach any of the conditions.
The U.S. government alleges Ms. Meng committed fraud in 2013 when she misled U.S. financial institutions about her company’s links to a Hong Kong subsidiary called Skycom that was doing business in Iran.
None of the allegations against Ms. Meng have been proven in court. Her next court appearance is on Feb. 6, 2019.
The arrest prompted heated discussion in British Columbia’s sizeable Chinese-Canadian community. Some have criticized Canada for arresting her at the request of the United States, while others said Canada has simply fulfilled its legal obligation.
Vancouver resident James Wu, who attended both days of Ms. Meng’s bail hearings last week and who is a leader of the Canada China City Friendship Association, called the arrest “stupid,” saying it hurts the relationship between Canada and China at the behest of the United States. He said most people in China used to have good impression of Canada, but this incident has made some begin to “see Canada differently.”
He noted U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that he would intervene in Ms. Meng’s case if it would secure a trade deal with Beijing cast doubt on Canada’s contention that the case is about law, not politics.
However, Patrick Tam, a B.C. resident who pays close attention to this incident, said in an interview that Canada arrested Ms. Meng for abiding the extradition law, so it has to respect the extradition treaties with the United States.
“We have to do it. Canada has to do it because we are a country [that follows] rule of law, so we have to respect the treaties,” he said. “We have to go through the due process.”
He said many people who claimed to support Ms. Meng and criticized Canada’s involvement in this case do not understand Canada’s legal obligation.
Fenella Sung of the group Friends of Hong Kong said she believes Canada has not done anything wrong.
She noted the Canadian justice system has treated Ms. Meng fairly.
“She got the right to pick her own lawyer, and then she got the full representation in the court to argue for rights and she was fairly treated. I don’t have any problem with that.”
With reports from Mike Hager