Canadian Prosecutors: New HSBC Evidence ‘Bolsters’ US Extradition Case Against Huawei Exec
Canada’s attorney general says Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is trying to turn her extradition proceedings into a trial with her bid to introduce evidence.DARRYL GREER / June 30, 2021
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CN) — In the second day of hearings into an application to introduce a dump of documents handed over by the bank in Hong Kong about HSBC’s knowledge of the company’s relationship with an Iranian subsidiary that may have violated U.S. sanctions, Canadian government lawyers didn’t contest their reliability, but rather their relevance to the extradition case of Huawei CFO Meng Whanzou.
“Relevance, unlike reliability, is a comparatively more rigorous test,” Robert Frater, a lawyer for the Canadian government acting on behalf of the United States, told the court.
Meng is accused of lying to an HSBC executive at a 2013 meeting in Hong Kong, where she gave a PowerPoint presentation that described the subsidiary Skycom as “controllable” by Huawei, a term the judge overseeing the proceedings acknowledged is “ambiguous.” The new evidence she seeks to admit includes email chains and internal reports produced by the bank about perceived risk of continuing to do business with Huawei, which kept more than 100 accounts at HSBC, including accounts it controlled for both Skycom and Canicula, accounts that were later closed by Huawei.
On Tuesday, Meng’s lawyers argued the new evidence shows the U.S. case against their client is “manifestly unreliable,” due to widespread knowledge among HSBC employees that Huawei controlled Skycom, as well as Canicula, the company that eventually acquired it. Meng’s lawyers attacked the U.S. records of the case, claiming new evidence shows that certain paragraphs used against their client were “patently false” and therefore unreliable enough to deny her extradition to New York to face fraud charges. But the Canadian government’s team claimed Wednesday that the new evidence shows quite the opposite.
“In large measure, the evidence presented on this application simply confirms the requesting state’s evidence that [Meng] failed to communicate the true nature of the relationship between Huawei and companies it controlled,” the Attorney General of Canada’s written submission states. “The proposed evidence is incapable of demonstrating that any part of the various records of the case are unreliable.”
The misrepresentation of Huawei’s control of Skycom lies at the heart of the U.S. fraud case against the Chinese telecom executive. She’s accused of providing false assurances to an HSBC representative, dubbed Witness B, about whether Huawei had exposed the bank to potential sanctions violations due to Skycom’s dealings in the sanctioned Islamic republic. That witness, Frater said, is set to testify that he didn’t know Huawei controlled Skycom since Meng allegedly distanced the company from Huawei by falsely describing it as a “third-party business partner.”
“Their evidence cannot refute Witness B’s evidence,” Frater told the court. “If they want to challenge him on that point, they have to do it at trial.”
Moreover, Frater said that even if some bank employees knew of Huawei’s dominance over both Skycom or Canicula, that doesn’t mean fraud didn’t occur — refuting Meng’s lawyers claims that both senior and junior HSBC employees knew.
“Fraud exists even if some people knew, that’s what the law says,” Frater argued. “There’s a distancing of Skycom and Huawei and the idea that everyone knew is not reflected in the paper they want you to look at.”
Lawyers for Huawei CFO say HSBC emails disprove basis for U.S. extradition clai
Lawyers for Huawei’s chief financial officer (CFO) on Tuesday presented internal emails from British bank HSBC that they said disproved U.S. claims that Huawei misled the bank.
CFO Meng Wanzhou’s legal team said the emails and documents submitted to a Canadian court showed at least two senior HSBC leaders were aware of relations between Huawei and Skycom, which Huawei describes as a separate local business partner in Iran. HSBC declined to comment.
Meng’s lawyers are trying to add the documents to evidence. They are meant to counter U.S. charges that only junior employees of the British bank knew about the relations between Huawei and Skycom.
U.S. prosecutors have alleged that Meng misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and may have caused the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Meng, 49, was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on charges of bank fraud in the United States. She has been held on house arrest for more than two years while her case moves through the Canadian legal system.
(With input from Reuters)