What China's warning on the Huawei arrest could mean for Canada
A B.C. judge said he wasn’t satisfied with conditions attached to a bail request by jailed Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in court proceedings Monday.
Justice William Ehrcke of the British Columbia Supreme Court voiced doubts that Meng’s husband, Liu Xiaozong, could act as her surety if she were released on bail. On the other hand, the judge also said it’s impossible to guarantee that there would be no flight risk should the court grant her request. The judge adjourned the case until Tuesday.
Crown attorney John Gibb-Carsley said the prosecution “always had a concern” about Liu acting as a surety because of his lack of connection to Canada and Vancouver.
Earlier, Meng’s lawyer had said her husband would post bail equal to $15 million (US$11 million) in cash and equity in the couple’s homes in Vancouver to gain her release from jail in Canada while she contests possible extradition to the U.S. Liu would also ensure she complies with the terms of her confinement imposed by the court, David Martin, Meng’s defense lawyer, told Ehrcke. The couple own two homes valued at more than $20 million, according to property records and an affidavit from Meng.
The pledge came Monday at the second day of a bail hearing in the high-profile case that’s transfixed investors on both sides of the Pacific as it stokes U.S.-China trade tensions. Meng followed the proceedings through an interpreter at the back of the Vancouver courtroom.
“She is a woman of character and dignity,” Martin told the court. “She would comply with your order.”
In response, Ehrcke asked Martin how Liu could possibly serve as his wife’s “jailer,” particularly if the judge couldn’t order Liu to remain in the country. Martin said he wasn’t aware of Liu’s immigration status in Canada.
The bail pledge offered by the defense includes $14 million worth of real estate equity and $1 million in cash.
Earlier, expert witness Scot Filer testified on behalf of the defense to explain how Meng’s whereabouts could be secured if she were to be released on bail.
Technology by itself would be no guarantee that Meng wouldn’t flee, Filer, chief executive officer of Lions Gate Risk Management Group and a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told the court. Using two security officers at a time, as well as a driver, and technology to oversee Meng’s whereabouts on would minimize the flight risk, he said.
“I’m very confident what we will have in place will satisfy the court,” Filer said.
Meng would pay for the security operations as an added layer of assurance she would remain in the country if granted bail, Martin, told the court.
Meng was arrested Dec. 1 during a stopover in Vancouver on her way to Mexico. The 46-year-old mother of four is accused of guiding a global effort by the Chinese telecom equipment giant to mask violations of sanctions on sales to Iran. It’s an unprecedented effort to hold accountable a senior executive who’s considered part of China’s inner circle -- the daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.
Crown attorney Gibb-Carsley has argued against granting Meng bail because she’s so wealthy that she will easily be able to pay whatever is required and then flee. Since learning of the investigation into her alleged activities, Meng has avoided the U.S., and other Huawei executives have also stopped traveling there, he added.
Meng’s lawyers have in turn argued their client has no criminal record, cited high-profile character witnesses to vouch for her, and say she has substantive ties that ensure she would remain in Vancouver. They’ve also cited health issues, including daily medication, to argue for her release from a Vancouver-area detention center.
Meng’s only two valid passports -- from China and Hong Kong -- have already been confiscated, preventing her from boarding any commercial flights. The only place she could flee to by land is the U.S., the very country that seeks her extradition, they argue.
The case has upended the relationship between Washington and Beijing as they scramble to avert higher tariffs on US$200 billion of goods that could depress an already slowing Chinese economy -- with potentially grave global consequences. The move by the U.S. to reach across borders to arrest a prominent Chinese national comes as U.S. political leaders seek to contain the Asian country’s rapid ascent, while holding it accountable to allegations of intellectual property theft and protectionism.
The hearing in Vancouver is the start of a long legal process in Canada that could end with Meng being sent to the U.S. to stand trial. Even though the North American neighbors have a longstanding treaty governing extradition, it can take months, even years, for a defendant to be handed over, if at all.
Should a judge agree to extradite Meng, she would have multiple chances to appeal the decision.
With files from BNN Bloomberg