New facts revealed in Huawei CFO case during March extradition hearing

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was recently back to court, which heard arguments related to the four branches of abuse of process raised by her counsel, including political motivation, unlawful detention, material omissions, and misstatements and violations of customary international law. The four points argue that the extradition proceedings are an abuse of Canada’s judicial process and must be stayed.

Meng’s lawyers argue that the person responsible for HSBC’s global relationship with Huawei, and his team, were fully aware of Huawei’s relationships with Skycom and Canicula. A complete copy of Huawei’s share transfer agreement with Skycom was presented to the Global Account Manager at HSBC when HSBC’s Group Risk Committee assigned him to check it. That particular position is also not considered a junior-level position, as later claimed by HSBC. Huawei’s HSBC Global Account Manager directly represented HSBC during the bank’s cooperation with Huawei, and was directly assigned by the Group Risk Committee to verify and report on the share transfer documentation. To Huawei, he alone acted as its HSBC representative.

Shortly after the Reuters coverage, it has been shown that HSBC contacted Huawei employees to coordinate the closure of both Skycom’s and Canicula’s accounts – Canicula was the parent company of Skycom. This suggests that HSBC had long been aware that Huawei controlled these accounts. The prosecution in the Canadian court could not deny the defense’s assertions that HSBC was fully aware of this relationship, so they argued that such facts fall outside the jurisdiction of the extradition case.

However, former US President Trump’s remarks on his willingness to intervene in this case suggests that Meng is being used as a bargaining chip in China/US trade negotiations. Many now see the extradition proceedings in Canada as being used to achieve a political purpose. Subsequent interference has hindered the case’s proceedings as well as the integrity of the Canadian judicial system. Using Meng as a bargaining chip and reducing her to a pawn in a political-economic contest deprives Meng of her right to be granted freedom by an independent and impartial judge, her lawyers have argued. 

To date, China/US relations have not eased since President Biden’s inauguration, and the new US administration has made it clear that it sees China as its biggest competitor. Trade negotiations between China and the US are still ongoing and there has been no sign that the US will ease its pressure on Huawei. During a press conference last month, a US spokesperson claimed that technology is at the core of Sino-US competition. 

As rulings on criminal cases determine the freedom and livelihood of individuals, commentators are now asking whether economic considerations should even be factored into such cases. The use of an individual’s freedom to facilitate a commercial negotiation is unacceptable under Canada’s judicial system and the rule of law, the courts have now heard. Meng’s case, however, has proven to be unique. A sitting US president politicized her case. The involved head of state directly acknowledged the plight of the person sought and expressed his willingness to intervene in the case if specified criteria were met. Those criteria had nothing to do with the case itself, lawyers have shown.

Meng’s hearing is now expected to continue to May 21. Following testimony from Canadian border officials and police officers involved in the case in late 2020, hearings will soon focus on then-President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the case, as well as outstanding issues from witness testimony and other abuses of process arguments.