A top Chinese telecommunications executive facing possible extradition to the United States has appeared in court as she sought bail in a case that has rattled markets and raised doubts about a fragile trade war truce between Washington and Beijing.
A prosecutor for the Canadian government on Friday urged the court not to grant bail, saying the charges against Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer (CFO) of Huawei, involve US allegations that the Chinese telecoms giant used a sham shell company to access the Iran market in dealings that contravene sanctions by Washington.
The hours-long hearing was adjourned until Monday, when the court is expected to render a decision on bail. Until then, Meng will remain in custody.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, while transferring planes on a trip from Hong Kong to Mexico, at the request of US authorities seeking her extradition. The arrest was made public on Wednesday.
If convicted, the 46-year-old daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei faces more than 30 years in prison, said the Canadian prosecutor.
The prosecutor said Meng had personally denied to US bankers any direct connections between Huawei and SkyCom, when in fact “SkyCom is Huawei”.
Hong Kong-based SkyCom’s alleged sanction breaches occurred from 2009 to 2014.
The lawyer suggested that Meng has shown a pattern of avoiding the US since becoming aware of the investigation into the matter, has access to vast wealth and connections, and therefore could flee Canada.
Meng’s lawyer, David Martin, disputed the prosecutor’s call to deny bail, saying: “The fact a person has worked hard and has extraordinary resources cannot be a factor that would exclude them from bail.”
He said Meng’s personal integrity would not allow her to go against a court order, and that she would not embarrass her father and company founder by breaching such an order.
US-China trade thaw threatened
Canada denied that the arrest, which was made public on Wednesday, was politically motivated, while the US officials on Thursday said Trump did not know about the arrest in advance.
Earlier on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said neither Canada nor the US provided China with any evidence that Meng had broken any law in the two countries, and demanded her release.
In a statement on Wednesday, Huawei said, “The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng.”
Chinese state media slammed Meng’s arrest, accusing the US of trying to “stifle” Huawei and curb its global expansion.