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PROMISE I'LL STAY

Huawei’s CFO makes an unconvincing argument why she won’t flee

Sabrina Meng Wanzhou
Jane Wolsak
In court.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is trying desperately to convince Canada to grant her bail.

Prosecutors have already argued extensively why Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, is a flight risk, including the fact she had at least seven passports, two of which were seized by Canadian authorities. But her lawyers seem to believe that having her husband and private security guards—who she’d pay for—watch over her might convince the British Columbia Supreme Court she won’t flee the country.

Meng, who was arrested on Dec. 1 at the behest of US authorities for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran, faces potential extradition to the US, where if convicted, she could face up to 30 years in prison. China, for its part, has also been trying to repatriate Meng. Over the weekend, vice foreign minister Le Yucheng summoned the US ambassador to China to lodge a “strong protest,” after having warned Canada’s China envoy of “grave consequences” if it didn’t release Meng from custody. (As a response, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau emphasized the independence of its judiciary.)

Meng’s bail hearing, which started on Friday (Dec. 7), will drag onto its third day when it resumes today. At yesterday’s hearing, her defense lawyer proposed releasing her on house arrest, where she’ll be outfitted with a GPS-tracking ankle monitor, and hiring a security team to monitor her 24/7 in all parts of her house except a “controlled environment,” reports the South China Morning Post, though it’s unclear what that environment is.

Under the proposal, Meng’s husband would also act as her “jailer” and ensure she abides by the terms of her house arrest. If she’s found in violation, he would lose C$15 million. The judge, William Ehrcke, however, said he wasn’t sure if Meng’s husband, lacking legal status to reside in Canada (paywall), could actually fulfill his duties as a guarantor, having just arrived in Canada the week prior on a visitor visa.

According to Ehrcke, it’s impossible to guarantee she wouldn’t be a flight risk. As the heiress to the Huawei empire, Meng has access to an exorbitant amount of wealth that could be used to flee her Vancouver home and ultimately, prosecution. Her trustworthiness is further strained by her seven passports from China and Hong Kong.

Meng is hoping that her assets can convince the court she won’t run. In her affidavit, Meng, who does not have a criminal record, offered to surrender her passports, make a cash deposit to the court, and guarantee one or both of her Vancouver homes, with a combined value of more than C$20 million, as equity. She also added that any breach of bail could damage Huawei’s reputation.

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