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

Athletes gear up for Pan Am XC Cup at Bear Mountain Saturday

This is the first time Canada is hosting the championships

Oak Bay’s first heritage conservation area is in the books

Councillor excited to see how HCA protects character of The Prospect

Petition aims to stop handyDART facility from being built in View Royal

‘Save Craigflower Creek’ has gathered over 1,000 signatures within a week

Saanich launches new tool to help residents learn about the budget

Tool launch will coincide with the Mar. 3 budget meeting

Nominations for Victoria municipal byelection are in

Victoria will elect one councillor

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Most Read