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Canadian judge considering fate of Huawei CFO as case ends early

Sabrina Meng 16x9.jpg

The Canadian hearing into the extradition of Huawei’s CFO came to an unexpectedly early end yesterday, but the judge may take weeks or months to announce her decision.

The United States wants Canada to extradite Meng Wanzhou, which is daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, to face financial charges that are related to the use of a shadow company to sell telecoms kit to Iran.

This week’s hearing, in Vancouver before associate chief justice Heather Holmes of the Supreme Court of Canadian province of British Columbia, was over legal arguments of double criminality: Canada will extradite people only if they are charged with something that is also illegal in Canada.

Canada has no embargo against Iran, but the US is actually alleging that Meng lied to HSBC by pretending that Skycom, the Hong Kong company that shipped products to Iran, had no connection with Huawei.

HSBC was the coordinator of a $1.5 billion loan to Huawei in 2013, and one of the main lenders. The following year it was involved in further negotiations for a credit facility of up to $900 million.

Observers had expected the complex arguments over double criminality to last until Friday, but lawyers on both sides came to a halt on Thursday. Richard Peck, a lawyer on Meng’s team, told Holmes: “This is the kind of case that tests our system.”

If Holmes decides in favour of Meng, she could be released to return to China, though the prosecution could appeal. If she decides against Meng, a further hearing is scheduled for June, when her lawyers will argue that her arrest, at Vancouver airport in December 2018, was an abuse of process.

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