VANCOUVER - An extradition proceeding under way in Canada could lead to Chinese tech giant Huawei's chief financial officer being transferred to the United States to face charges related to sanctions violations.
Prosecutors are asking a British Columbia court to determine if charges against Meng Wanzhou are a case of "double criminality," which means they are crimes in both Canada and the United States. For someone to be extradited from Canada to the U.S., the charges would have to be recognized by both countries.
Meng was arrested by Canadian officials at the request of the U.S. and is accused of misleading U.S. banks and attempting to circumvent American sanctions against Iran while serving as the chief financial officer of Huawei, which was founded by her father.
Prosecutors allege the charges amount to fraud, which is illegal in both Canada and the United States.
Meng's defense says the accusations allege a violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Canada currently has no sanctions against doing business in Iran, and lawyers argue Meng could not be extradited based solely on violating U.S. sanctions.
If the court finds the charges are only about violating sanctions, the 47-year-old executive could be free to return to China.
If, instead, the court rules the charges amount to fraud, Meng could remain free on $7.7 million bail in one of her two mansions in Vancouver. Meng's next scheduled appearance would then take place in June. At that time, her defense attorneys would argue that Canadian authorities participated in an improper "covert criminal investigation" when she was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, while transiting to Mexico.
Any decision in the case is subject to multiple levels of appeals.
Longtime Vancouver immigration lawyer and policy analyst Richard Kurland, who is not involved in the case, attended the hearing. Speaking outside the courthouse, he said those appeals can go on for years.
"Don't forget these cases are complex in law and in fact," Kurland said. "The Canadian system traditionally has appeals and, (in) extraditions where the litigants can afford it, that (can) run to 10 years and longer."
A decision on the current stage of the extradition proceedings may be announced at the end of this week or may be "reserved" for a later date.