Huawei lawyers wrap up arguments in Canadian court, saying US extradition case against Meng Wanzhou is 'ineffective'

Meng Wanzhou leaves the court hearing in Vancouver, on Sept 28, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

VANCOUVER (REUTERS) - Lawyers for Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou wrapped up their arguments in a Canada courtroom on Tuesday (Sept 29), calling the United States extradition request "ineffective," and sought to add a new charge in their effort to stay the case.

Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States charging her with bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break US sanctions law.

The daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition from under house arrest in Vancouver.

The arrest has strained China's relations with the United States and Canada. Soon after Meng's detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage.

Meng arrived at the British Columbia Supreme Court on Tuesday wearing a plum purple dress with her hair down and sat in a booth next to her translator.

The hearings are the latest in her extradition case, which is expected to finish in April 2021.

Over the course of Monday and Tuesday morning, Meng's lawyers pushed for an additional allegation of abuse of process to be added.

The hearings - which are scheduled for five days but could wrap up by Wednesday - are referred to as Vukelich hearings, meaning the judge must decide whether the defence's latest allegation is plausible enough to be worth fully litigating.

If the judge rules in Meng's favour, an additional set of hearings will be added to the case schedule to argue the allegation.

The crux of Meng's argument is that the United States misrepresented the case when it requested Canadian officials to arrest her. US authorities charged that Huawei misled HSBC about the company's business in Iran, relying on a PowerPoint presentation given by Meng to HSBC.

The United States has used part of the presentation as proof of the alleged fraud, but Meng and her lawyers argue otherwise.

"No banker would leave that meeting thinking that Huawei had distanced itself from Skycom," Frank Addario, one of Meng's lawyers, told the court on Tuesday.

Huawei has long described Skycom Tech as a separate local business partner in Iran, but the US indictment alleges Huawei controlled Skycom and used it to violate American sanctions.

Addario said the United States' case for extradition is "based on so many omissions and misrepresentations that it's unreliable and ineffective," adding that "HSBC knew what it was getting into."

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