Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou granted bail, will live in Vancouver under electronic surveillance
VANCOUVER — Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has been granted bail as she fights possible extradition to the U.S.
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge ordered that the Chinese telecom executive may be released under a number of conditions, including that she wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports, stay in Vancouver and its suburbs and confine herself to one of her two Vancouver homes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Meng was released on $10 million bail — $7 million in cash and $3 million in sureties.
Applause was heard in the courtroom’s public gallery after Justice William Ehrcke read his decision.
In his decision, Ehrcke reviewed the details of the case, including allegations the Chinese telecommunication giant used an unofficial subsidiary, Skycom, to conduct business in Iran in contravention of U.S. sanctions.
He said his main concern was whether the bail conditions outlined by Meng’s lawyers would sufficiently reduce the risk of her fleeing the country.
Ehrcke said the proposed conditions would reduce the risk of her not attending court to an “acceptable level.”
Ehrcke said he put “very little weight” on allegations that Meng avoided travelling to the U.S. after she became aware of the criminal investigation in 2017, noting that there are all kinds of reasons why someone would not travel to the U.S. over that time.
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During the first two days of the hearing, Crown argued that Meng — who faces extradition to the U.S. — poses a flight risk because of her wealth, lack of ties to the jurisdiction, and the fact she lives primarily in China: a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S. or Canada.
Defence said Meng, in fact, owns two homes in Vancouver and would never flee justice as it would dishonour her family, Huawei, and China itself.
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Meng, 46, and husband Liu Xiaozong own two properties in Vancouver, one at 4005 West 28th Avenue that was bought in 2009, and another at 1603 Matthews Street, which was bought in 2016, affidavits showed.
On Monday, Meng’s lawyer David Martin said Liu will put up a $1-million cash deposit and two Vancouver homes — valued at $14 million — as surety to supervise her while she is on bail.
He went on to say Liu, described as a venture capitalist who can work from home, would be by his wife’s side at all times.
Crown said Tuesday that Liu is not an appropriate surety, as their “interests are too aligned.”
If she chose to flee, “it would be inconceivable that he not go with her.”
Ehrcke had questions about whether Liu, who is in Canada on a visitor visa, can act as surety against Meng fleeing, noting the surety application form states the applicant must be a resident of British Columbia.
On Tuesday, Martin said a number of other people have come forward as sureties, pledging a total of more than $3 million.
A Vancouver realtor who helped Meng’s family purchase their Vancouver homes said he will pledge his $1.8-million property and act as surety, the court heard.
Coverage of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou on Globalnews.ca:
An insurance agent who has been a Canadian citizen since 1999 and once worked with Meng at Huawei also offered to act as surety. He said he has known Meng since the mid-1990s and is pledging $500,000 of equity from his $1.4-million home.
The third surety is a homemaker. Her husband used to work at Huawei and knew Meng well, the court heard. She pledged $850,000 of equity from her home on Vancouver’s west side.
Another surety is one of Meng’s Vancouver neighbours who says she is close to the family, particularly with the parents of Meng’s husband. She pledged $50,000 in cash.
Those who offered to act as surety said they are confident Meng would not breach her bail.
Martin also said Liu will likely be able to extend his stay in Canada.
Martin told the court that if bail were granted, Meng would spend time with her family at their Vancouver home and study at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
Meng is next scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 6, Ehrcke said.
On Monday, Martin suggested if she is granted bail, a private security firm — Lions Gate Risk Management — be given the authority to apprehend Meng if she breaches bail.
Lions Gate executive director Scot Filer said in the event bail was granted, Meng could be supervised by his company. His plan would include a dedicated driver and security team; an encrypted system for texting, videos, and GPS; a home security package; and a weekly itinerary provided by Meng.
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Stephen Tan of Recovery Science Corporation then told the court about the use of an ankle bracelet to monitor Meng.
Meng would cover costs associated with the comprehensive supervision plan, the court heard.
Crown attorney John Gibb-Carsley said Monday the family did own two Vancouver properties, but Meng only visited the area two or three weeks every year.
Gibb-Carsley noted the risk of hackers impacting Meng’s electronic surveillance, raising the possibility, however remote, that the CFO of a global communications company has “the ability to compromise the system.”
He also noted that Lions Gate has done security monitoring, but never monitored someone on bail. He called the risk associated with the case “an inch wide but a mile deep.”
WATCH BELOW: New evidence in Meng Wanzhou case
Evidence released over the weekend offered a closer look at Meng’s connection to Vancouver and her possible coming legal defence.
The documents hinted at Meng and Huawei’s legal strategy ahead of a potential U.S. court case.
WATCH: U.S. wants Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges
Gibb-Carsley said Friday that Meng deceived financial institutions by saying Skycom and Huawei were separate, when they were not.
The submission highlights a specific date when the fraud is alleged to have occurred: Sept. 3, 2013, in which Meng gave a PowerPoint presentation to an unnamed financial institution.
In it, Meng is alleged to have misrepresented Huawei’s ownership and control of Skycom and its compliance with U.S. laws.
The submission further argues that even if Huawei was in violation of sanctions — which it does not concede — there is no evidence Meng was aware of it.
“The case against the applicant seems to rest wholly on her reliance on a PowerPoint presentation prepared by others,” it states.
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Huawei issued the following statement after Meng’s release:
“We have every confidence that the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will reach a just conclusion in the following proceedings.
“As we have stressed all along, Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including export control and sanction laws of the UN, US, and EU.
“We look forward to a timely resolution to this matter.”
Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, has been detained in China, two sources told Reuters on Tuesday, and his current employer, the International Crisis Group, said it was seeking his prompt and safe release.
It was not immediately clear if the cases were related, but Meng’s arrest has stoked fears of reprisals against the foreign business community in China.
None of the allegations against Meng have been proven in court.
— With files from Rumina Daya, Emily Lazatin, Simon Little, Jesse Ferreras, Global News, along with Reuters and The Canadian Press
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