‘Lying to a bank is fraud’: Crown lawyers begin arguments in Huawei exec’s extradition trial

Click to play video: 'Crown lays out arguments at Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing'
Crown lays out arguments at Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing
Crown prosecutors laid out their arguments for the first phase of Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing, and say the Huawei executive broke Canadian fraud laws. Aaron McArthur reports – Jan 22, 2020

Lawyers representing Canada’s attorney general laid out their argument at an extradition hearing for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

“It’s not complex,” said Crown prosecutor Robert Frater. “Lying to a bank is fraud.”

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December, 2018 at the request of U.S. authorities.

She’s facing charges in the United States over allegations she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei’s relationship with a subsidiary doing business in Iran.

Click to play video: 'Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial enters second day'
Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial enters second day

She’s accused of putting the investment bank at risk of legal and economic loss for violating American sanctions against Iran, but Meng’s lawyers point out Canada has no such sanctions.

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Frater argued Wednesday that Meng clearly made misrepresentations to HSBC about dealings with Huawei subsidiary Skycom, and that she must have know there was a chance HSBC could suffer deprivation as a result.

He told the court that HSBC loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to Huawei, based on assurances from Meng that there was no inappropriate relationship with the Skycom.

“The moment the money leaves HSBC’s control it is enough to prove risk of deprivation,” said Frater.

The hearing in Vancouver this week is focusing on the legal test of double criminality, meaning that the allegations against Meng must also be a crime in Canada for her to be extradited to the United States.
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The defence wrapped its arguments on the topic Tuesday, saying that the case against her does not amount to fraud in Canada, and there was no double criminality because Canada does not have sanctions against Iran.

Click to play video: 'Defence lays out case at Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing'
Defence lays out case at Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing

Frater also took aim at that argument Wednesday, telling the court it was “absolutist.”

“Absolute rules are often rejected by courts, and double criminality is far more nuanced than that,” he said.

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Crown wrapped its arguments shortly after noon. The court is scheduled to resume hearings Thursday at 10 a.m.

The Crown has argued in court documents that Meng’s alleged lies to the bank are enough to prove a case of fraud in Canada.

It also argues that, if necessary, the judge can consider the context of American sanctions in a limited way, only to shed light on the risk faced by HSBC.

READ MORE: Defence wraps arguments in first phase of Huawei exec’s Vancouver extradition trial

Meng denies the allegations and is free on bail, living in one of her two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver.

She has been listening in court with the help of a translator.

Following her arrest at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018, China detained two Canadian citizens and restricted some imports, actions widely seen as retaliation.

READ MORE: Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case back in court for 2nd day

The British Columbia Supreme Court hearing on double criminality is expected to last through the end of the day Thursday.

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If the judge finds the legal test has been met, the hearing will proceed to a second phase in June that will consider defence allegations that Meng’s rights were violated during her arrest at the airport.

But if the judge finds double criminality has not been proven, Meng will be free to leave Canada, although she’ll still have to stay away from the United States to avoid the charges.

With files from Aaron McArthur

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