Canada police supervisor denies effort to deceive Huawei CFO about indictment

Sarah Berman
·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver

(This Nov. 25 story corrects to remove reference to border guards writing down serial numbers of Meng's devices, in 7th graph)

By Sarah Berman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Canadian police supervisor in Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou's arrest two years ago denied on Wednesday that police directed border authorities to hide from Meng that she was the target of an arrest warrant while they questioned her.

Defense lawyer Scott Fenton accused Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Sergeant Janice Vander Graaf of telling border officials to hide a sealed indictment and arrest warrant from Meng when she was interrogated on the day of her arrest.

The documents would have made her aware she was entitled to a lawyer.

"I have no recollection of that happening and I don’t believe that happened," Vander Graaf told the court.

Meng, 48, was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, at Vancouver International Airport on a warrant from the United States. She is facing charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.

Her lawyers have argued that U.S. and Canadian authorities coordinated ahead of her arrest, using the extended investigative powers of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to interrogate her without a lawyer present before her arrest and passing the details of her electronic devices to U.S. officials.

Meng was interviewed for three hours by Canadian border officials before being arrested by the RCMP. Border agents wrote down the passcodes for her devices.

Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting the extradition, arguing the abuses of process that her lawyers say occurred violated her civil rights and should invalidate it.

Vander Graaf pushed back against Fenton's claim that she told border officials what to ask Meng, or how to conduct their examination. "I don’t know what they told Ms. Meng...We didn't tell them what to tell her, or what not to tell her," she said.

SHARING PASSCODES

Previously, CBSA and RCMP officers have been called to testify specifically on the alleged illegal coordination between the forces and whether identifying details about Meng's devices were purposely shared with police and U.S. authorities.

CBSA officers previously testified in court that they noted Meng's passcodes as part of due diligence while interviewing her then gave them to the RCMP by mistake.

Vander Graaf testified on Wednesday that neither she nor any fellow officers requested the passcodes from the CBSA.

Witness testimony is set to last until Friday, with the potential for two to three more days scheduled in December.

Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated since Meng's arrest. China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges days later.

Meng's extradition hearing is expected to wrap up in April 2021.

(Reporting by Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Peter Cooney)