RCMP officer defends decision over Huawei CFO arrest

RCMP officer defends decision over Huawei CFO arrest
Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a hearing at B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 29 November 2020

RCMP officer defends decision over Huawei CFO arrest

RCMP officer defends decision over Huawei CFO arrest
  • Meng Wanzhou was detained in 2018, accused of bank fraud by the US, allegedly misleading HSBC over dealings with Iran

VANCOUVER: A Canadian police officer stationed at Vancouver International Airport who rejected a plan to arrest Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on the plane she arrived on two years ago, testified that at the time he told other officers the best course was to allow border agents to interrogate Meng before arresting her.

The testimony from Ross Lundie, a sergeant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Vancouver International Airport detachment, came at the end of two weeks of witness cross-examination in Meng’s US extradition case.

Meng, 48, was arrested on a US warrant on charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies’ business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break US sanctions.

She was arrested at the airport in December 2018 following a three-hour examination by officials with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The interrogation has become a flashpoint in the case to extradite Meng to the US.

Her lawyers allege that Canadian and US authorities conspired to use the additional investigative powers of the CBSA to interrogate Meng without a lawyer present. They further claim that the RCMP passed on identifying details of Meng’s electronic devices to US authorities, in violation of her civil rights.

As evidence, Meng’s lawyers have pointed out that the RCMP could have arrested Meng on the plane but instead chose to allow the CBSA to conduct an investigation first.

Lundie testified on Friday about his phone conversations with officers who had planned to arrest Meng on the plane she arrived on. Lundie said he told police that he did not think it was a good idea and  that the CBSA needed to be informed.

He told the court that problems can arise when police do not respect the authority of other partner agencies, and said the RCMP does not normally make arrests aboard planes “unless there’s fighting or something extreme going on.”

Friday marked the end of the second of three legs of witness testimony during which defense lawyers attempted to show that enough abuses of process took place during Meng’s detainment by Canadian authorities to invalidate the extradition. Witness hearing is to resume on Dec. 7.

Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting the extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver.

Prosecutors have argued that Meng’s investigation and arrest followed standard procedures.

On Wednesday the RCMP supervisor in charge of Meng’s arrest testified that she had relayed a suggestion from her superior to arrest Meng on the plane but that she did not think it was a good idea. She also testified that emails she reviewed did not show the RCMP passed serial numbers of Meng’s devices to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lundie testified Thursday that he had suggested the CBSA conduct its examination of Meng first.

Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated since Meng’s arrest. China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges days later.

Meng’s extradition hearing is expected to wrap up in April 2021.


WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Despite long-term challenges, oil prices remain in healthy range

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Despite long-term challenges, oil prices remain in healthy range
Updated 33 min 10 sec ago

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Despite long-term challenges, oil prices remain in healthy range

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Despite long-term challenges, oil prices remain in healthy range

Oil prices have been stable since early January, with Brent crude price hovering around $55. Brent crude closed the week slightly higher at $55.41 per barrel,
while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed slightly lower at $52.27 per barrel.

Oil price movement since early January in a narrow range above $50 is healthy, despite pessimism over an increase in oil demand, while expectations of US President Joe Biden taking steps to revive energy demand growth are
still doubtful. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a hike in US refining utilization to its highest since March 2020, at 82.5 percent. The EIA reported a surprise weekly surge in US commercial crude stocks by 4.4
million barrels. Oil prices remained steady despite the bearish messages sent from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which believes it will take more time for oil demand to recover fully as renewed lockdowns in several countries weighed on oil demand recovery.

The IEA’s January Oil Market Report came as the most pessimistic monthly report among other market bulletins from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and EIA. It forecast oil demand will bounce back to 96.6 million bpd this year, an increase of 5.5 million bpd over 2020 levels.

Though the IEA has lowered its forecast for global oil demand in 2021 due to lockdowns and vaccination challenges, it still expects a sharp rebound in oil consumption in the second half of 2021,
and the continuation of global inventory depletion.

The IEA reported global oil stocks fell by 2.58 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2020 after preliminary data showed hefty drawdowns toward the end of the year. The IEA reported OECD industry stocks fell for a fourth consecutive month at 166.7
million barrels above the last five-year average. It forecast that global refinery throughput is expected to rebound by 4.5 million bpd in 2021, after a 7.3 million bpd drop in 2020.

The IEA monthly report has led to some short term concern about weakness in the physical crude spot market, and the IEA has acknowledged OPEC’s firm role in stabilizing the market.

Controversially, the IEA believes that a big chunk of shale oil production is profitable at current prices, and hence insinuated that shale oil might threaten OPEC market share.

It also believes that US shale oil producers have quickly responded to oil price gains, winning market share over OPEC producers. However, even if US shale oil drillers added more oil rigs for almost three months in a row, the number of operating rigs is still less than half that of a year ago, at 289 rigs.

The latest figures from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show that crude futures “long positions” on the New York Mercantile Exchange are at 668,078 contracts, down by 18,414 contracts from the previous week (at 1,000 barrels for each contract).