A senior Huawei executive whose arrest in Vancouver led to a breakdown in Canada-China relations headed to court on Monday to fight extradition to the United States, reports BSS/AFP. Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer and eldest daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, is wanted by US authorities for alleged fraud.
In order to secure her freedom, the “princess of Huawei” must convince a Canadian judge that the US charges — linked to alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran — would not stand up in Canada and are politically motivated. The US alleges Meng lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with its Iran-based affiliate Skycom, putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Tehran.
“Simply put, there is evidence she deceived HSBC in order to induce it to continue to provide banking services to Huawei,” the justice department said in court filings. Meng has denied the allegations. She has been out on bail, living in one of her two Vancouver mansions for the past year, awaiting trial.
The justice department will say in arguing for her extradition that the US accusations against Meng would be considered a crime in Canada if they had occurred there. This is a key test known as double criminality. Her lawyers, however, will counter that the misrepresentations do not amount to fraud, but rather are an attempt by the United States to enforce its sanctions against Iran — which Canada has not matched.
– Caught up in US-China row –
Meng’s arrest during a Hong Kong-to-Mexico flight stopover in December 2018 put the 47-year-old at the centre of the US and China’s battle over the technology giant’s growing global reach. It also stuck Canada in the middle of a trade row between the world’s two largest economies, resulting in the arrests of two Canadians and restrictions on its agricultural shipments to China.
China’s “arbitrary detentions,” according to Ottawa, of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor on espionage suspicions, nine days after Meng was taken into custody, have been widely interpreted as retribution by Beijing aimed at pressuring Canada to free Meng. China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, has said Meng’s release was a “precondition” for improved bilateral ties.
Ottawa, however, has maintained it will not interfere in the legal process. The hearing is scheduled to last five days.