The extradition case of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou exposes how far the U.S. is willing to go to protect its economical interests. In a politically motivated move, U.S. Justice Department requested the arrest and extradition of Mrs. Meng Wanzhou over allegedly misleading HSBC in August 2013. One could argue that there is no chance of a fair trial which is a requirement for extradition under Canadian law but since there is a binding extradition treaty between the United States and Canada, the extradition court does not have the jurisdiction to rule on this arguably valid challenge of the extradition request.
What does however apply in full is the jurisdiction over Canada’s role in the arrest, the extradition process, and of course, the evaluation of validity of the request itself. Meng Wanzhou’s chartered rights have been violated during the process of her arrest and the Canada Border Services Agency was aware that this was the case. The direct involvement of FBI officials also challenges the validity of the arrest itself. Canada is a respected country on the international stage and its reputation for impartial Justice should not be risked by attempting to cover up these breaches of protocol for an international arrest.
The most important card the defense team has on its hand is the extradition request itself. The warrant for Huawei’s CFO is based on a meeting between Meng Wanzhou and HSBC representatives in which Huawei allegedly mislead HSBC by withholding essential information about its business relationship with Skycom Tech Co. Not only is this contradicted by the details in the documents provided by Meng Wanzhou, which were conveniently omitted by the U.S. in the arrest and extradition request, it is also the obligation of HSBC to know and validate these details under national and international laws!
Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou defense team has fought a long battle to gain access to HSBC’s documents that would proof that HSBC either was fully aware of the business relationship between Huawei and Skycom or did not fulfill its obligations in KYC and KYB. In April of this year, HSBC and Huawei reached an agreement on an exchange of documents which was instantly approved by the Hong Kong’s High Court. These documents Meng Wanzhou’s defense team finally received shed important light on the entire arrest and extradition request by the U.S. from various perspectives, which might change the entire course of this politically motivated case!
One thing that many analysts have challenged from the beginning of this process is that HSBC, as the house bank of Huawei, and Huawei being one of their largest corporate clients, was not aware of the business relationship between Huawei and Skycom. Should HSBC or its leadership not have been aware, and these documents would have confirmed that, it would confirm that HSBC did not fulfill its requirements under international regulations for the financial industry, and more specifically, the stipulations of the deal it struck with the U.S. 2012 for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the Trading with the Enemy Act. We have now learned that the documents provided by HSBC clearly confirm that HSBC was fully aware of all facts and included this in its risk evaluation, as it is obligated to do!
These documents also finally provide answers about the disputed claims by U.S. authorities that Meng Wanzhou willingly misled HSBC by misrepresenting the business relationship with Skycom. According to the request by U.S. officials, this publicly known relationship was not duly stated by Meng Wanzhou on behalf of Huawei. Meng Wanzhou on the other hand argues that it was clearly stated in the information provided to HSBC, and the documents provided by HSBC now clearly confirm that. The HSBC internal customer management system (HORIS Head Office Reporting Information System) even lists Skycom under Huawei Mastergroup…!
The more important question for the court to consider is which party omitted this crucial information on which the entire request for arrest and extradition is based? Did HSBC omit these details in attempt to cover its involvement, or was it the responsible U.S. Department that attempted to mislead the Canadian Authorities? Besides clarifying whether the U.S. omitted these details on purpose in its request, the court will also have to clarify if the U.S. Department of Justice was aware that their claims against Meng Wanzhou (and Huawei) were unsubstantiated, and with that, the entire request for Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and extradition invalid from the beginning.
The documents provided by HSBC make crystal clear that the business relationships of Huawei were well known, and it appears very unlikely that U.S. authorities missed this important detail “by accident”. The formal Record of Case claims that Meng Wanzhou was involved in financial fraud and violation of U.S. sanctions based on the PowerPoint presentation she used during the meeting in 2013 but according to the HSBC records, this presentation was never submitted to the global risk review committee. So, how did the U.S. get it?
This question leads to another theory that keeps popping up, that U.S. authorities did not initially obtain these documents from HSBC but through its own “surveillance” activities. In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the CIA had hacked the network of Huawei and had “obtained so much information that we do not know what to do with it” [sic]. Did the U.S. walk into its own trap by not evaluating the information HSBC has? What would the implications be in this case when essential evidence in the request for the arrest and extradition was obtained through an illegal intelligence operation against a sovereign entity in a sovereign country? Either way, it is clear that the U.S. Record of Case includes misleading information!
Canadian lawyers are following this case in every detail because they are fully aware of the impact on the future. Violating an arrestee’s-chartered rights is not taken lightly in Canada, and neither is an international arrest and extradition request that would be annulled in every Canadian court when a Canadian law enforcement agency would submit it. What is crystal clear is that Canada has to make a decision about its role on the international stage, which goes far beyond this case itself. Will Canada remain the reliable partner in North America, or will it simply become the obedient right hand of the United States?