Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou wants HSBC evidence kept secret in Canadian extradition battle

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Lawyers for Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou are seeking a publication ban on new evidence obtained from HSBC bank that they think will boost her Canadian court battle against extradition to the United States.

They believe the material supports her claim that she is the victim of an abuse of process and she should be released, although the exact nature of the evidence has not been described.

Her lawyer, Richard Peck, previously said the material, obtained as a result of a recent Hong Kong lawsuit, was “copious”.

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A brief hearing was held in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver on Thursday, at which Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes agreed to hear Meng’s application to keep the evidence secret from the public next Monday.

Canadian government lawyer John Gibb-Carsley, representing US interests in the marathon extradition case, said his side would oppose a publication ban.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou opens new front in marathon extradition battle

Meng, chief financial officer for Huawei and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, has been in Vancouver fighting extradition ever since she was arrested at the city’s airport on December 1, 2018, at the request of US authorities who want her to face trial for fraud in New York.

She is accused of defrauding HSBC by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, in a way that allegedly put the bank at risk of breaching US sanctions on Tehran.

She denies the charges, and says HSBC was well aware of the nature of Huawei’s business in Iran.

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, arrives at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver to attend a hearing on March 31. Photo: The Canadian Press via AP
Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, arrives at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver to attend a hearing on March 31. Photo: The Canadian Press via AP

To further that claim, Meng has been seeking records from HSBC. The bank originally refused to hand the material over, and a lawsuit brought by Meng to force the bank to do so was rejected in February by a court in Britain, where HSBC is domiciled.

But in April, HSBC agreed to turn over the documents after Meng brought a similar lawsuit in Hong Kong. Much of that case remains under seal, and the settlement is confidential.

An application was made by Meng to have the new evidence admitted to her extradition case by the BC court this week, but that application has not been made public either.

HSBC, Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou settle Hong Kong case seeking documents as she fights extradition

Meng’s long extradition fight was headed towards its end game, with arguments set to conclude this month, before the new evidence emerged. Hearings are now expected to continue until at least August.

Appeals could drag out the process for years.

Meng’s treatment has outraged Beijing and upended China’s relations with Canada and the US. Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were subsequently arrested by Chinese authorities and put on trial for espionage; Canada has said they are victims of arbitrary detention and “hostage diplomacy”.

Thursday’s hearing was conducted by phone. Meng will attend Monday’s hearing by phone.

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