US submits extradition request for Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou

28th Jan 2019

US authorities have submitted a formal extradition request for Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou. The extradition request relates to crimes allegedly committed in Hong Kong. At her bail hearing, the US authorities alleged that between 2009 and 2014, Huawei used a Hong Kong-based company, Skycom Tech, to do dealings with telecom companies in Iran in breach of American sanctions against Iran. It is alleged that Meng Wanzhou committed bank fraud by misleading American banks and inducing them into doing business with Skycom.

Now that the US authorities have filed an extradition request, the Canadian Justice Department has 30 days to issue an “authority to proceed” and if it does so the case will go to an extradition hearing. In Canada, extradition hearings are heard by a Superior Court judge who will decide if the evidence in the case against Meng Wanzhou is cogent enough to result in a trial, if it were tried in the Canadian justice system. If a Canadian court decides Meng Wanzhou should be extradited then the Canadian Justice Minister, David Lametti, would have the final say on whether or not she should be surrendered.

This case is unusual because it involves sanctions against a third country, Iran. Normally, when companies violate US sanctions against foreign nations, the US authorities’ impose a fine rather than detaining executives.

One of the interesting arguments in the case will be in relation to the principle of dual criminality. If the US authorities allege that Meng Wanzhou committed a bank fraud that was linked to Huawei breaching US sanctions against Iran then she may argue that the principle of dual criminality is not met because Canada is not a party to the sanctions against Iran and therefore it would not be illegal, in Canada, to trade with telecoms companies in Iran. However, if the US characterises the case as bank fraud, irrespective of any link to the Iran sanctions, then dual criminality may be satisfied.

Jasvinder Nakhwal
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7822 7753

Nick Vamos
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7822 7776