Huawei CFO's team asks judge for adjournment in final extradition hearings
Published Monday, April 19, 2021 4:55AM EDT Last Updated Monday, April 19, 2021 6:36PM EDT
Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, arrives at B.C. Supreme Court to attend her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER -- Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge Monday to delay the final leg of hearings in the Huawei executive's extradition case one week before it is set to begin.
Richard Peck said the legal team needs time to review new evidence obtained through a court order in Hong Kong that could support its argument that the United States misled Canadian officials in describing the allegations against Meng.
"What we request is a reasonable time in which to assess the documents and determine their likely admissibility," he said.
In response, a lawyer for Canada's attorney general argued there's no basis to believe the documents will be relevant and accused Meng's team of trying to turn the extradition hearing into a trial.
After 2 1/2 years of legal proceedings, "and mere days from reaching the finish line, the applicant asks this court to take a several month pause. Her request should be denied," the Crown said in a written response.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport in 2018 at the request of the U.S. to face fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny.
She is accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei's control of subsidiary Skycom during a presentation in 2013, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The court has heard that Huawei sold Skycom to Canicula Holdings, another company that Huawei controlled financially, in 2007.
While Meng's Canadian lawyers have not yet seen most of the documents from HSBC and their contents are unclear, Peck said it's believed they will shed light on what the bank knew about the relationship between the companies and how much it relied on Meng's 2013 presentation.
"We say these materials are relevant because they are referenced from the very bank at the very time including the very parties involved in this matter," Peck said.
Meng's team also said in court documents that Canada's attorney general should launch an investigation into whether Meng was arrested based on inaccurate information.
Peck proposed that the final three weeks of the hearing, set to begin April 26, be adjourned until Aug. 3 to allow time for such a probe, as well as for COVID-19 cases to subside.
But Robert Frater, a lawyer for Canada's attorney general, said there's no evidence to believe the new documents are relevant to the extradition case.
Meng's team relies entirely on two letters from Huawei's U.S. lawyers in which allegations are made, but support for the allegations is redacted and those lawyers are "aligned" with Meng, he said.
He added that the U.S. has "vigorously" denied the allegations, so Meng's team is essentially asking the B.C. Supreme Court to weigh one side against the other, a job better suited for the U.S. trial.
Frater also accused Meng's team of "jurisdiction shopping" for a court that would approve the document disclosure.
Meng's lawyers previously failed in an effort to access the same documents through a court in the United Kingdom.
"Having received the answer 'no' from the U.K. court, then my friends went to Hong Kong and inexplicably, HSBC, which was the same litigant that appeared in the court in the U.K., completely reversed its position after having won on every single point in the U.K. court," Frater said.
"HSBC for reasons known only to itself turned around and decided to agree to an order."
Frater called the adjournment application an "11th hour" request, adding the Hong Kong court provided no timeline for when the documents might be shared with Meng's team.
There's no credible basis for an independent investigation and Canada has no duty to investigate the evidence underlying extradition requests made by its treaty partners, he said.
The broad public interest in Meng's extradition case only adds to the urgency of wrapping it up, he said.
"Extraditions hearings are supposed to be expeditious," Frater said.
Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes reserved her decision until Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2021.