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Huawei CFO set to return to Vancouver court as China-Canada fallout grows

Meng Wanzhou is scheduled to appear for another preliminary hearing at the Supreme Court of British Columbia as her defense lawyers seek to discredit the US handover request

Natalie Obiko Pearson | Bloomberg 

Wanzhou Meng, HUAWEI CFO, Wanzhou, Huawei
Wanzhou Meng, Huawei CFO (Photo: Bloomberg)

Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer is set to return to a Vancouver courtroom Wednesday ahead of planned extradition hearings as deteriorating relations with China over her arrest exact a growing toll on Canada.

is scheduled to appear for another preliminary hearing at the Supreme Court of British Columbia as her defense lawyers seek to discredit the US handover request and argue Canada improperly arrested her in December at Vancouver’s airport. Those matters must be dealt with first before extradition hearings can begin, her defense has said.

The main focus of Wednesday’s appearance, set for 10 am Vancouver time, is to schedule subsequent court dates, including those related to any legal applications that Meng’s team plans to bring forward ahead of extradition hearings, according to a statement from Canada’s justice department. There may also be discussions about administrative matters including minor bail amendments, it said.

China has accused Canada of abetting "a political persecution" against its biggest technology company and has demanded the release of Meng, daughter of billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei. Since December, China has detained two Canadians on national security grounds, holding them in secret jails. China also sentenced two other Canadians to death over drug charges, halted Canadian canola imports and last week suspended import permits for two major Canadian pork exporters.

Meng, released on C$10 million ($7.4 million) bail in December -- has been living with her husband and youngest daughter at one of the family’s two luxury homes in Vancouver, speaking regularly by phone to her father. She had indicated in bail hearings she would like to move from her house valued at C$5 million to her other C$13.3 million residence once renovations at the latter are complete.

The US accuses her of tricking banks, including HSBC Holdings Plc, into conducting transactions that potentially violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. She faces multiple criminal charges, including fraud. Last week, U.S. prosecutors filed a motion seeking to disqualify one of Huawei’s lead defense lawyers, James Cole. Cole was the US deputy attorney general from 2011 to 2015, a period which coincides with when the Justice Department was collecting evidence in the fraud and sanctions-related case.

The politically explosive proceeding could take years, and history shows that if Canada follows the letter of its law, Meng will probably be extradited. That said, she appears to be gearing up for a legal offensive. In March, she sued the Canadian government for damages, saying that her constitutional rights were breached and that her arrest amounted to “false imprisonment.” Her lawyers have also cited comments by US President Donald Trump to argue that her case is politically motivated.

First Published: Wed, May 08 2019. 10:19 IST