Vancouver (AFP)

A Vancouver judge on Thursday put under advisement her decision on a possible extradition to the United States of a framework of the Chinese giant Huawei, at the end of a series of hearings crucial for this procedure which opposes Beijing and Ottawa.

"I reserve my judgment on this matter," said British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes, who has not set a date for a decision, on the last of four days of the hearing.

The financial director of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, is accused of bank fraud by the United States, which is demanding his extradition.

Washington accuses Ms. Meng of having lied to the HSBC bank about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, a subsidiary that sold telecom equipment to Iran, which exposed the bank to a possible violation of American sanctions against Tehran. The applicant has always denied these allegations.

During this week of hearings, the debates focused on "double criminality": in order to be extradited to the United States, Ms. Meng must be prosecuted there for an offense also punishable in Canada.

The decision of Justice Holmes on this matter will determine the course of the proceedings. If the magistrate considers that the double criminality is not met, Meng Wanzhou could be quickly released, unless the prosecution appeals.

Otherwise, the procedure will continue its course and new hearings are scheduled for April, June and September. They should relate to the conditions of his arrest at the Vancouver airport by the Canadian authorities, deemed illegal by his lawyers.

This arrest on December 1, 2018 had caused an unprecedented crisis between Canada and China.

Nine days later, two Canadians, ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were arrested by China and charged with spying.

These arrests have been called "arbitrary" by Canadian authorities and have generally been viewed in the West as retaliation for pushing Ottawa to release Ms. Meng.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out on Tuesday against a possible release of Ms. Meng - by decision of the government - to obtain those of MM. Kovrig and Spavor in the context of a "prisoner swap".

During this week of hearings, the prosecutor pleaded the bank fraud to justify a possible extradition of the daughter of the founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, and to counter the assertions of the defense. On the contrary, the latter considers that the essential elements of fraud cannot be established.

- "Economic interests" threatened -

Ms. Meng told HSBC executives in 2013 that Huawei no longer owned Skycom and that she had resigned from the board.

Deceptive statements for the prosecutor, who pointed out that Huawei controls Skycom's operations in Iran and provides financial management. In addition, he explained that branch teams were using Huawei's email accounts and the parent company's security badges.

Counsel for Ms. Meng argued that the charges against her in the United States have no equivalent in Canada. According to them, Canada - which had not taken the same sanctions against Iran at the material time - is asked to apply these sanctions in fact.

For the prosecution, the sanctions simply provide the context "to better understand why the economic interests of HSBC were at risk".

The prosecutor argued that the Huawei / Skycom relationship exposed HSBC to new civil and criminal sanctions after the bank has already paid fines for violating sanctions by carrying out transactions with Cuba, Libya, Iran, Sudan and Burma.

Throughout the week, Meng Wanzhou, on probation, left his luxurious Vancouver residence every day to go to court, with his electronic box highlighted at his ankle.

© 2020 AFP