Huawei executive’s extradition trial gets under way in Canada

UNTV News   •   January 21, 2020   •   236

Meng Wanzhou steps out of her car upon arriving at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 20 January 2020. EPA-EFE/STR

Toronto – The extradition trial of the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei kicked off on Monday in the western Canadian city of Vancouver.

Meng Wanzhou is being sought by the United States on charges that she committed bank fraud and violated US sanctions on Iran by misleading banks about the business Huawei allegedly carried out in that Middle Eastern country through a subsidiary called Skycom.

The proceedings at the Supreme Court of British Columbia began at 9 am local time and are being presided over by Judge Heather Holmes.

Attorneys for the 47-year-old Meng are expected to argue that the accusation she faces in the US does not constitute a crime in Canada because Ottawa removed sanctions on Iran in 2016.

If the court agrees, the legal concept of “double criminality” will prevent her from being extradited.

The trial is initially scheduled to last four days, but it could take much longer for there to be a definitive outcome.

Even if the British Columbia court rules in favor of extradition and that decision is upheld on appeal, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei could take the matter to Canada’s justice minister and attorney general, David Lametti, who has the power to deny an extradition if he deems it to be “unjust or oppressive.”

Meng’s case has sparked a diplomatic row between Canada and China.

The Huawei CFO was arrested by Canada at the request of the US on Dec. 1, 2018, in Vancouver, where she was making a stopover on a trip from Hong Kong to Mexico City.

In a multi-count indictment unsealed in January 2019, the US Department of Justice said the charges against Huawei, two Huawei affiliates (including Huawei USA and Skycom) and Meng “relate to a long-running scheme by Huawei, its CFO, and other employees to deceive numerous global financial institutions and the US government regarding Huawei’s business activities in Iran.”

“As alleged in the indictment, beginning in 2007, Huawei employees lied about Huawei’s relationship to a company in Iran called Skycom, falsely asserting it was not an affiliate of Huawei.”

After Meng’s arrest, China froze diplomatic and trade relations with Canada and accused that North American country of violating the human rights of one of its citizens.

Shortly after her arrest, Beijing also apprehended two Canadian citizens – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – and continues to hold them on charges of endangering China’s national security.

Canada has launched an international diplomatic campaign aimed at securing the release of Kovrig and Spavor, further increasing tensions with Chinese authorities.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia released Meng on 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.6 million) in bail on Dec. 11, 2018.

Meng, who is assumed to be the heiress of a fortune valued in the billions of dollars, currently is living with her family in one of two mansions she owns in Vancouver.

Under her bail conditions, Meng must wear a GPS ankle bracelet and pay for her own 24/7 surveillance. EFE-EPA

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Canada shuts borders to foreign nationals in bid to slow coronavirus

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada closed its borders to all foreign nationals except U.S. citizens and permanent residents on Monday (March 16), with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging people to stay at home to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We will be denying entry into Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference outside his home, where he is under quarantine.

“All Canadians as much as possible should stay home.”

The death toll in Canada jumped to four on Monday, from one on Sunday. All three new deaths were reported by the Pacific province of British Columbia.

Health officials say they have found about 350 cases of COVID-19 across all 10 provinces.

Trudeau acted after the premiers of the two most populous provinces – Ontario and Quebec – urged him to clamp down on the borders.

“These measures will help save lives,” he said, adding that trade would not be affected.

Canada shares a long unguarded frontier with the United States, which takes 75% percent of Canadian goods exports.

Asked why U.S. citizens were exempt, Trudeau said the close bilateral integration meant the United States was in a different category from other nations but added that more measures could be announced soon.

Trudeau said Canadians should not travel outside the country and urged citizens who were abroad to return home. He also said Canada would reroute all international flight arrivals to four airports – Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver.

Canada has also imposed tougher screening requirements.

The Canada Border Services Agency said all travelers arriving from any international destination would now be told to self-isolate for 14 days.

Some visitors who flew into Canada over the weekend told reporters they had not undergone any screening.

Trudeau has said his Liberal government will soon announce a major stimulus package to help those hit economically by the outbreak. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Canada’s Trudeau self-isolates as wife is tested for coronavirus

UNTV News   •   March 13, 2020

Justin Trudeau is embraced by his wife Sophie Gregoire as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie are in self-isolation after she came down with flu-like symptoms and was tested for the new coronavirus, according to an official statement on Thursday (March 12).

The 48-year-old Liberal leader is exhibiting no symptoms and will continue to work from home until the results of his wife’s test comes in, the statement said. However, face-to-face meetings with provincial premiers scheduled for Thursday and Friday will instead be held by phone.

“Having recently returned from a speaking engagement in London, UK, the Prime Minister’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau began exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms including a low fever late last night,” the statement from the prime minister’s office read.

“She immediately sought medical advice, and is being tested for the COVID-19 virus. She is self-isolating at home awaiting test results, and her symptoms have since subsided.”

The statement does not mention whether their three children are staying home as well.

Canada has just over 100 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, more than double the number from a week ago. With Manitoba and New Brunswick reporting their first presumptive cases in the past 24 hours, six of Canada’s 10 provinces have recorded COVID-19 contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Soren Larson)

DOLE warns vs fake job offers in Yukon, Canada

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has warned the public against bogus job offers abroad following reports received by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office about a fraudulent scheme that lures Filipinos to work in Yukon Territory in Canada.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that based on information they received, the scammer uses the name of a website of a legitimate Yukon Human Resources practitioner to dupe their unsuspecting victims.

The victims are then asked to pay US$440 in exchange for non-existent jobs.

The Labor chief said the scammers took advantage of DOLE’s announcement in September 2019 on the employment opportunities in various industries in Yukon.

It was in August last year when Bello and Minister Ranj Pillai signed a joint Communique to establish cooperation on the recruitment of Filipino workers to Yukon.

After the signing, a proposed memorandum of understanding was forwarded to Yukon, which aims to establish a system for the recruitment process in the deployment of Filipinos through a Nominee program under a government-to-government arrangement.

“This government to government agreement shall validate the existence of guaranteed employment offers. Hence, we are warning the public to be very cautious of this scam that seemingly capitalizes on the still-to-be finalized labor agreement between the Philippines and Yukon,” Bello said.

He, however, clarified that a bilateral labor pact has yet to be signed between the two parties.

“Based on the report by our POLO Vancouver, the Yukon government is still studying the memorandum of understanding, and DOLE will provide an update on this undertaking,” Bello said.

DOLE reiterated its advise to the public to visit the website of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (poea.gov.ph) to validate the authenticity of any job offers they receive.

He also urged jobseekers to report to the POEA via info@poea.gov.ph any suspicious job-related activities they encountered.

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