Meng Wanzhou, centre, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks back to B.C. Supreme Court after a lunch break, in Vancouver, on Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. judge says evidence in Meng case fit for trial, not extradition effort

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to admit additional sworn testimonies from employees of the telecom giant as evidence in her extradition case.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes says in a ruling released Friday that the proposed evidence has no purpose in an extradition hearing, which has a different mandate than a trial.

She says an extradition judge considers whether the requesting state has provided evidence establishing a case, but does not engage in a broader weighing of evidence or consider the general strength of the case.

Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny.

She is accused of making false or misleading statements to international bank HSBC to the effect that Huawei no longer controlled technology company Skycom, when in fact it continued to do so, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

While she rejected the sworn testimonies, Holmes provisionally allowed an expert report to be admitted into evidence subject to further submissions.

Holmes says that evidence will be relevant only if she is persuaded that a loss or risk of loss to HSBC may be considered too remote because enforcement action against the bank was unlikely.

Meng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport in 2018 precipitated a chilling of Canada-China relations. The arrest in China of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, has widely been seen as retaliation.

Meng’s lawyers had argued in court that the proposed evidence would demonstrate that the U.S. case against Meng provided to Canadian officials was “manifestly unreliable” and that HSBC staff were well aware of Huawei’s relationship with Skycom.

But Holmes ruled that making credibility findings is not her job.

“The proposed evidence could do no more than offer an alternative narrative from that set out” by the United States in its summary of the case, Holmes wrote in the decision.

“These would take the extradition hearing beyond its proper scope.”

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