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Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou loses bid for key evidence in U.S. extradition battle

A B.C. judge has rejected Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s attempt to submit a trove of banking evidence in her legal battle against extradition to the United States on fraud charges.

As a result of Friday’s ruling, the Huawei Technologies chief financial officer will head into her final three weeks of extradition hearings next month without key documents her lawyers argued would “fatally” undermine the entire U.S. case against her.

Meng faces fraud charges over allegedly misleading the investment bank HSBC about a Huawei subsidiary’s activities in Iran, which the U.S. said violated sanctions. Meng and her firm deny any wrongdoing. HSBC released the documents related to its dealings with Huawei under a court-brokered agreement in April in Hong Kong. 

“My decision is that the application is denied,” Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said during a case management hearing on Friday. “The HSBC documents will not be admitted.”

Holmes did not provide her reasons for the decision, but said they would be released in roughly 10 days.

meng wanzhou hearing
Meng is fighting extradition to the United States. She claims that HSBC’s own documents undermine allegations of fraud against her. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Meng has been under nightly curfew and constant supervision in her Vancouver mansion since December 2018, when she was arrested at Vancouver International Airport. She had hoped the newly obtained HSBC evidence would help toss her two-and-a-half year Canadian legal battle.

Her lawyers argued last month that the HSBC documents prove the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case: that Meng lied to the bank about Huawei’s links to Skycom, a subsidiary operating in Iran. Defence counsel argued that allowing the evidence would prove U.S. misconduct and thereby invalidate its extradition request.

The case has put Canada between two superpowers, Washington and Beijing, and two Canadian citizens still languish in Chinese prison on spying charges which the federal government sees as retaliation.

Lawyers for Meng argued on June 29 that HSBC’s documents would prove the U.S. narrative of the case “can simply no longer survive scrutiny.”

“The offence of fraud advanced by the [U.S.] is implicated fatally by the new evidence,” they said. “This new evidence consists of indisputably reliable, contemporaneous business records from the purported victim — HSBC — that are capable of potentially demonstrating that the narratives presented by the [U.S.] are so defective as to compel the court to place no reliance on them.”

But Canadian government lawyers argued against allowing the HSBC files as evidence, saying the records are more pertinent to an expected criminal case against Meng in the U.S., not the Canadian extradition hearings.

Meng’s next hearing is scheduled for July 29, just days ahead of three weeks of court appearances expected to start Aug. 3.

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