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B.C. judge rules against Huawei's Meng Wanzhou, extradition process continues
VANCOUVER -- A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that a critical test in the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has been met, and the extradition process will continue.
In her 23-page decision, released Wednesday morning, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes indicated that taken as a whole, the Huawei chief financial officer's alleged crimes would appear to constitute a crime in Canada, a principle known as "double criminality." Read the full decision below.
Meng is charged with bank and wire fraud in the U.S. for allegedly misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with a subsidiary doing business in Iran to HSBC bank.
U.S. authorities allege the bank later processed financial transactions that violated U.S. sanctions.
Both Meng and Huawei have repeatedly denied the charges.
Meng's lawyers argued in January that because Canada didn't have similar sanctions on Iran, the bank wouldn't have been placed at risk by the alleged misrepresentation, there could not have been fraud, and thus there would be no crime in Canada.
But Justice Holmes did not agree with their argument, writing that the crux of the allegations against Meng is the alleged fraud itself.
She added that U.S. trade sanctions on Iran can be considered as context or background to understand Meng's alleged fraud.
Meng’s lawyers had argued that each and every element of the alleged conduct had to be considered as if it had taken place in Canada.
But Holmes wrote that was too narrow an approach, which "loses sight…of the 'essence' of the alleged conduct."
She also reasoned that in a hypothetical scenario where the crime took place in Canada against a U.S. bank, nothing in Canadian law would prevent referencing U.S. law to establish the fraud.
“Canada’s law of fraud looks beyond international boundaries,” Holmes wrote.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said the judge had basically decided that "fraud is broad."
"You're not going to have a narrow definition of fraud in an extradition context, because that would let bad people do bad things and get away with in it in the future," Kurland said.
Meng did not address reporters as she left a brief court appearance after the decision.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Huawei Canada said it was "disappointed" with Justice Holmes' decision.
"We expect that Canada's judicial system will ultimately prove Ms. Meng's innocence. Ms. Meng's lawyers will continue to work tirelessly to see justice is served,” the statement read in part.
It’s unclear if Meng's lawyers plan to immediate appeal Wednesday's decision or wait until a later stage of the extradition process.
What happens next?
Meng and her lawyers are scheduled to appear in B.C. Supreme Court next month for a case management conference, to schedule the next set of hearings.
The Huawei executive's legal team plans to proceed with an argument that her Charter rights were violated when she was arrested at YVR back in December 2018.
Alleging an abuse of process, the defence team claims Meng was detained and questioned for three hours by Canada Border Services Agency as part of a "covert criminal conspiracy."
Essentially, their argument is her detention was part of a fishing expedition by Canadian and American authorities, who then tried to gather evidence that would bolster their case.
Both CBSA and the RCMP involved in her arrest have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Meng's team also plans to argue her charges are politically motivated.
A judge would be asked to rule on the abuse of process application, and if Meng lost, her team would likely appeal.
Justice Holmes also pointed out that her ruling Wednesday makes no determination as to whether there is enough admissible evidence against Meng to justify committing her for trial in Canada.
Meng does not face a trial in Canadian court, but meeting that threshold is a key requirement in order for Meng to be extradited to the U.S.
Legal experts suggest her case could reach the Supreme Court of Canada, taking years to work its way through the justice system.
And Canada's justice minister would also have to decide whether to actually surrender Meng to the authorities, a decision that could also be reviewed by the appellate court.
Canada's Justice Department didn’t specifically reflect on the ruling and said the process "speaks to the independence of the Canada's extradition process."
When B.C.'s premier was asked to weigh in on the decision made Wednesday, he responded that he was confident in the court system.
John Horgan said he knew there could be political ramifications across Canada and around the world, but that ultimately it's a federal issue.
Meng’s legal team is expected back in court June 3.
CTV News was in court for the ruling. Read back through live coverage below.
Here's the full ruling. Tap the icon in the top right to expand.