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Threatening letters containing bullets sent to Meng Wanzhou's home

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2021-01-14 Jason Proctor
a group of people walking on a sidewalk: Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou and her husband Liu Xiaozong are escorted back to court by the security detail she argues is no longer needed during daylight hours. © Ben Nelms/CBC Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou and her husband Liu Xiaozong are escorted back to court by the security detail she argues is no longer needed during daylight hours.

A series of threatening letters, some containing bullets, was sent to Meng Wanzhou's Vancouver home last summer, according to the head of the security firm that guards the Huawei executive around the clock.

Lions Gate Risk Management president Doug Maynard told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Wednesday that his employees worked with Vancouver police investigators in a bid to try to catch the culprit.

Maynard said the Chinese government also seized on the threats to demand an end to the extradition proceedings against Meng.

"There was an immediate demand made through Global Affairs to have Ms. Meng returned to China because of those threats," Maynard said.

"That was made from Chinese consul to Global Affairs, and I was made aware of that through Vancouver police."

Fears of contracting COVID

Details of the investigation emerged during the second day of a hearing at which Meng is asking a judge to let her spend her daylight hours without the three-person security detail who currently accompany her everywhere.

Maynard objects to the loosening of Meng's bail conditions and cited the threats as part of the risk he feels the court would be taking by allowing her to travel around the Lower Mainland with only a GPS ankle monitor to track her movements.

a woman looking at the camera: Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has survived thyroid cancer and suffers from hypertension. She claims she is at heightened risk of catching COVID-19. © Ben Nelms/CBC Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has survived thyroid cancer and suffers from hypertension. She claims she is at heightened risk of catching COVID-19.

Meng faces extradition to the United States on charges of fraud and conspiracy in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a company accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

Prosecutors say that by relying on those alleged misrepresentations to continue handling Huawei's financial transactions, the bank placed itself at risk of loss and prosecution for violating the same set of sanctions.

Meng, who has survived thyroid cancer and has hypertension, claims the changing roster of her guard detail places her at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.

'Sometimes there were bullets'

Maynard said his staff had already shut down the public's access to Meng's mail box at the time a series of threatening letters began arriving last June and July.

"They were easily identifiable by markings on the outside, and we were working hand in hand with the Vancouver police in an attempt to keep that evidence as pristine as possible," Maynard said.

a man standing on a stage: Vancouver police investigated a series of threatening letters sent to Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, according to the president of Lions Gate Risk Management. © Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC Vancouver police investigated a series of threatening letters sent to Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, according to the president of Lions Gate Risk Management.

Maynard said his team and Meng's staff devised a plan whereby gloved security guards would open all the mail delivered to them by a letter carrier before handing off items unrelated to the investigation. He said there were five or six letters in total.

"And they would give a rough translation of the letter confirming that it was another threatening letter," he said. 

"And sometimes there were bullets inside the envelopes."

Maynard concluded his testimony by registering his objections.

"I always have to ask myself: what's changed, and why now?" Maynard said. 

"So what's changed? Nothing. In fact, in my mind some of the risks may be elevated ... Why now? There's no particular reason in my mind."

'Your trust in her was well placed'

Justice William Ehrcke, who is overseeing the bail variation application, is the same judge who first granted Meng bail in December 2018 as part of a $10 million agreement.

As part of that deal, Meng agreed to be fitted with a GPS ankle monitor and to be under constant supervision. She also put up $7 million, while a number of sureties posted another $3 million.

a group of people standing on a sidewalk: Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is seen with her husband Liu Xiaozong. Meng faces possible extradition to the United States on charges of fraud and conspiracy. © Ben Nelms/CBC Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is seen with her husband Liu Xiaozong. Meng faces possible extradition to the United States on charges of fraud and conspiracy.

Complicating matters for the defence, one of those sureties was Scott Filer, the chief executive officer of Lions Gate, who put up $1,000. Filer says he will no longer be a surety if the daytime restrictions are relaxed.

Defence lawyer Mona Duckett told Ehrcke there has been what amounts to a material change in circumstances since Meng was first released days after her arrest at Vancouver's airport.

Back in December 2018, Meng was an unknown, Duckett said. But since then, Meng has complied scrupulously with the terms of her bail conditions.

Duckett said a Supreme Court of Canada judgment in the years since Meng's arrest has also changed the legal landscape in favour of giving Meng less onerous terms of release.

And the extradition case itself has been delayed by both the pandemic and the complex nature of the legal issues which have emerged.

"Your trust in her was well placed," Duckett told the judge in her final submissions.

"To suggest that she will not see this to the end and fight to the end is not realistic."

Crown lawyer John Gibb-Carsley urged Ehrcke not to change the bail conditions. He said that Meng is still a serious flight risk because she faces the possibility of a sentence in excess of 30 years if convicted, and she has immense resources and few ties to Canada.

Gibb-Carsley said the judge should also place great weight on the fact that the CEO of the company tasked with guarding Meng would no longer feel comfortable guaranteeing her release with his own money if the conditions change.

"It is symbolically significant," Gibb-Carsley said.

"Lions Gate has a serious concern that if these bail conditions are varied, the risk is too great to manage."

Ehrcke has reserved his decision until Jan. 29.

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