Senior Communist Party officials let their frustration over the arrest and likely extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou be known over the weekend during meetings with the American and Canadian ambassadors to Beijing where they threatened "severe consequences" if Meng isn't released. But these threats haven't blunted the Canadian government's determination to prosecute Meng for fraud. And with the bail hearing for the executive and daughter of one of China's most revered entrepreneurs set to begin a second day of proceedings on Monday, Bloomberg has published the most detailed report describing the defense presented by Meng's lawyers.
As government lawyers argue that Meng should be held in lieu of bail because she is a flight risk with no close ties to Canada, the executive's legal team is insisting that detaining Meng would be inhumane, citing her recent history of health problems, and the two multimillion dollar Vancouver homes owned by her family. According to her lawyers, Meng suffers from hypertension and a sleep disorder related to a recent bout with thyroid cancer. She also struggles to eat solid food. She needs daily medication to cope with her health issues.
The Canadian government has asserted that Meng would almost certainly slip back to China, which has no extradition treaty with the US, if released from her Canadian prison (and once back in China, Meng would have ample resources to evade capture).
"I’m not saying that wealthy people can’t get bail," he said Friday at the six-hour bail hearing as more than 100 spectators watched from a glass-walled gallery. "But I’m saying in terms of magnitude to feel the pull of bail, we are in a different universe."
Her lawyers have argued that she has many important connections with Canada, and that her health should at least give her reason to remain on house arrest. As we've previously pointed out, the process of extraditing Meng could take years.
"I continue to feel unwell and I am worried about my health deteriorating while I am incarcerated" she said in a filing. "I currently have difficulty eating solid foods and have had to modify my diet to address those issues. My doctor has for years provided me with daily packages of medications."
Vancouver, her attorneys argued, plays a "special role" in the relationship between Meng and her family. She often spends time in the city with her four children (at least one of whom is attending boarding school in the US).
The other prong of the argument revolves around how Vancouver plays a special role for Meng - as it does for many a wealthy Chinese - a place to buy property, educate her children and just let her hair down from time to time. Meng would carve a few weeks out of her punishing travel schedule every year for a break in the city, according to court documents. She’d time it for the summer, when her children would be there. Just last August, she was seen strolling through a local park, snapping photos with her in-laws.
Meng and her husband also own two homes worth roughly $16 million combined.
Meng, who first visited Vancouver about 15 years ago, bought a six-bedroom house with her husband Liu Xiaozong in 2009 that’s now assessed at C$5.6 million ($4.2 million), according to property records and an affidavit by Meng read aloud in court. In 2016, they bought a second property, a brick-and-glass mansion set in a 21,000-square-foot lot assessed at C$16.3 million. Purchased with mortgages from HSBC, she’s offered to post the family’s equity in both as part of her bail.
"She would not flee," Meng’s defense lawyer David Martin responded. "She has a home here."
Her lawyers even submitted photocopies of documents they said illustrated Meng's ties to Vancouver.
Of course, the value of these homes is peanuts compared with her father's estimated wealth of $2 billion.
Meng's attorneys have also attacked the crux of the prosecution's case - namely, denying that Meng knowingly misled banks about transactions involving Huawei subsidiaries that violated US and EU sanctions against Iran.
Meng is "an accomplished individual of previous good character, who has strong roots and ties to Canada and to the Vancouver community," Martin wrote in a filing. "She presents no threat to public safety, and due to her health issues incarceration would be extremely punitive."
But many doubt this argument will find much sympathy with a Canadian judge. After all, the Canadian government has already considered whether the allegations against Meng constituted a violation of Canadian law, and they decided in the affirmative. Monday's bail hearing is expected to take most, if not all, of the day. But a decision is expected. And if Meng is held, expect another round of threats from the Communist Party.