Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech firm Huawei, claimed U.S. authorities are trying to mislead the judge overseeing Meng’s extradition hearing by providing an outline of the case that is misleading and omitted important details.
The lawyers made the remarks in a memo, which was made public after a hearing in Vancouver on Meng’s extradition case on Monday.
In the case management memo, Meng’s lawyers claim that the only key evidence to support Meng’s extradition is provided by HSBC, and this evidence presents “deliberate and/or reckless misstatements of fact and material omissions.”
The lawyers argued the records, filed to justify the U.S. request of extradition on charges of fraud, are “so replete with intentional or reckless error” that the only way to deal with them is a stay of proceedings.
Misstatements and omissions
Meng’s lawyers claim the record of the case (ROC) in support the accusation against Meng is incomplete on several fronts, starting with the PowerPoint presentation delivered by Meng on August 22, 2013 to a HSBC banker in Hong Kong.
The presentation, which is the key evidence for Meng’s fraud accusation, allegedly misled HSBC into continuing to provide banking services to Huawei, including processing U.S. dollar transactions, and exposed HSBC to a risk of civil and criminal monetary penalties in the United States under U.S. sanctions laws against Iran.
Meng’s defense team submitted a key disclosure in the above-mentioned slides, where important details were omitted in the version provided by HSBC.
Regarding Huawei’s ongoing business operations in Iran, there are clear statements in the slides, including “as a business partner of Huawei, Skycom works with Huawei in sales and service in Iran,” according to a source acquired by China Media Group.
The ROC asserts that only “junior” employees were aware of Huawei’s business in Iran, and did not relay this information to “senior” executives at HSBC.
Meng’s defense team finds it implausible as HSBC has paid a 1.9-billion-U.S.-dollar fine and entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) related to its own independent misconduct, including in relation to violations of U.S. sanctions law regarding Iran.
In this DPA, HSBC assured the USDOJ that it was remediating the Know Your Client (KYC) for its customers group-wide, adopting enhanced risk standards and adopting U.S. anti-money laundering standards. This remedial measure would have required HSBC to review accounts to ensure that HSBC “knew its customer(s)” and therefore, would have identified Huawei’s business in Iran.
Huawei, being HSBC’s Global Liquidity and Cash Management Department’s 17th largest customer and the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer, would necessarily be serviced by senior representatives of HSBC.
Meng’s defense team also adduced further evidence that any issue with the client that involved a potential violation of U.S. law, while the bank was under a DPA, would be addressed by the most senior members of HSBC management.
Abuse of process
Meng’s defense team also argued that Meng’s legal rights are being violated by the political interference from the U.S., as U.S. President Donald Trump once indicated shortly after Meng’s arrest that he would intervene in the case if it results in a better trade deal with China.
Earlier this month, documents released by a Canadian court revealed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service predicted that Meng’s arrest in December 2018 would send “shock waves around the world and is certain to be a significant bilateral (Canada-China; U.S.-China) issue.” The document indicates that Canada was aware of the political calculation behind Meng’s arrest.
Arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou a ‘political conspiracy’: Chinese Foreign Ministry
Additionally, Meng’s team argued that the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to mount a covert investigation against Meng when she got off the plane.
The authorities have used the extraordinary powers of border agents to detain Meng before she was officially arrested, seizing her electronic devices, compelling her to give over passwords and questioning her without a lawyer about Huawei’s activities in Iran.