Caixin
Jan 30, 2019 06:30 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

Canada Court Pushes Back Next Hearing on Huawei CFO Pending Extradition Decision

Meng Wanzhou will return to court in early March for extradition decisions. Photo: VCG
Meng Wanzhou will return to court in early March for extradition decisions. Photo: VCG

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. who is sought by the U.S. on fraud allegations, will return to court in Vancouver March 6 as Canada weighs its response to a U.S. request to extradite the Chinese executive.

Canadian Minister of Justice David Lametti has until March 1 to make a decision on whether to approve extradition proceedings against Meng, the Supreme Court of British Columbia heard Tuesday.

Meng was previously scheduled to return to court Feb. 6, according to a court order at her bail hearing in December. Meng’s lawyers and the prosecution made a joint request for a date change Tuesday, citing the need to wait for the justice minister to make a decision regarding the U.S. extradition request.

Canada's Justice Department confirmed late Monday that it received a formal extradition request from the U.S., nearly two months after Meng was arrested in Vancouver at the behest of U.S. authorities. Meng was released on bail after putting up Can$10 million ($7.46 million) on Dec. 11 and has since remained lived in Vancouver under surveillance.

The formal request came shortly after the U.S. Justice Department unsealed two indictment listing 23 counts of criminal charges against Huawei, its affiliates and Meng.

Meng appeared at the British Columbia Supreme Court Tuesday morning in a brief hearing to make changes to her bail conditions. David Martin, Meng’s lawyer, told the court that one of the original sureties — people who are financially responsible for her bail — a real estate agent who was going to pledge a Can$1.8 million home for Meng’s release, had failed to do so because of the lack of necessary paperwork. Another woman filled in as a surety.

Meng’s legal team made a request to restore the real estate agent as a surety, along with his wife, according to Martin.

Previously, several people were named as surety for Meng’s bail, including the real estate agent, two former employees of Huawei and their family members, a neighbor, the CEO of the security company in charge of monitoring Meng during the bail, and Meng’s husband, Liu Xiaozong.

Meng’s lawyer also told the court Tuesday that Meng’s defense team is adding two lawyers —Richard Peck and Scott Fenton — and their teams.

What’s next?

According to an indictment unsealed by the U.S. Justice Department Monday, Meng and other defendants are charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

U.S. prosecutors accuse Meng of lying about Huawei’s relationship with a Hong Kong-based affiliate company, Skycom Tech Co., and misleading its banking partners about the nature of Huawei’s business in Iran. Both Meng and Huawei have denied the accusations.

Meng allegedly made a presentation personally in August 2013 to an executive of one of Huawei’s major banking partners in which she repeatedly lied about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Canadian and U.S. authorities will still have several steps to go before Meng can be extradited, which could take months or even years, legal experts said.

Upon receipt of the formal request, Canada’s Department of Justice has 30 days to decide whether an “Authority to Proceed” will be issued. Once such an order is issued, an extradition hearing will take place to determine whether the evidence provided for extradition would have been “sufficient to commit the person for trial in Canada if the conduct had occurred in this country.”

If the judge rules to proceed with the extradition, the case will be passed on to Canada’s justice minister for a final decision. Meng will have chances to appeal during the lengthy procedure.

The arrest of Meng set off a political firestorm among China, the U.S. and Canada. Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ousted his ambassador to China, John McCallum, after the ambassador made contentious comments on Meng’s case.

On Monday, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged the U.S. to retract the arrest warrant and extradition request against Meng. Geng urged Canada to take “seriously China’s solemn position” demanding Meng’s immediate release and “stop risking its own interests for the benefits of the U.S.”

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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