Meng Wanzhou's lead defence lawyer says "shoddy" note-taking by the police and customs officers involved in the Huawei executive's 2018 arrest amounts to a dereliction of duty.
Veteran defender Richard Peck read directly from the CBSA's enforcement manual during B.C. Supreme Court extradition proceedings Monday as he accused the officers who detained and grilled Meng of trying to "obscure" the true nature of what happened.
The manual deals specifically with the importance of officer notebooks, saying success in legal proceedings can depend on the "ability to recount the circumstances immediately before, during, and after an occurrence, incident or enforcement action."
"Every person involved with Ms. Meng on December 1st at the Vancouver International Airport from both the RCMP and the CBSA were well aware of the significance of what they were dealing with," Peck said.
"And yet this dictate that I have just cited was not followed."
Defence claims Charter rights violated
Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of the Chinese telecommunication giant's founder, billionaire Ren Zhengfei.
The 49-year-old is fighting extradition to New York, where she faces charges of fraud and conspiracy in relation to allegations that she lied to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
Prosecutors claim the bank relied upon Meng's alleged misrepresentations in deciding to continue handling financial transactions for Huawei, risking loss and prosecution.
Meng's lawyers will spend this week and next continuing arguments intended to convince the judge overseeing extradition proceedings to toss the case.
They claim there are violations of Meng's Charter rights at the time of her arrest.
'It's a travesty'
Peck tore into the general note-taking practices of the officers involved, saying they represented a pattern of obfuscation with "uniform omissions."
He said none of the CBSA officers who intercepted Meng as she came off a plane from Hong Kong mentioned the existence of an earlier meeting with RCMP in which the plan for the arrest was hatched.
Peck said the CBSA officers later testified that internet searches led them to conclude Meng could be a national security threat, but none of them recorded those searches at the time.
The lawyer also singled out individual officers for criticism, including the CBSA superintendent who spent 15 minutes asking Meng questions, but who recorded only a few lines of their conversation.
"It's a travesty — an inferior imitation of what a notebook should look like," Peck told the judge.
"There are problems with mere negligence if that's what is happening … It becomes much more serious if there's a deliberate determination not to take notes."
'Significant steps to cover up'
The defence claims CBSA former Pacific regional director Roslyn MacVicar instructed employees not to keep records about the Meng case in the weeks after the high-profile arrest because they would be vulnerable to access to information laws.
In her testimony last fall, MacVicar denied giving the order. But the CBSA's chief of passenger operations for the airport claimed MacVicar instructed her and an immediate supervisor to stop creating records.
In submissions filed ahead of this week's court proceedings, Meng's lawyers claim MacVicar issued the order after learning that the CBSA officer who seized Meng's phones had given the passcodes to the RCMP.
"They took significant steps to cover up the CBSA's conduct," the defence documents read.
"Members of the CBSA who were directly involved in the planning, execution and follow up to Ms. Meng's arrest, as well as senior members of the CBSA, made a concerted effort to conceal their misconduct and the true purpose of their actions."
Peck will wrap up defence submissions on the arrest Tuesday, with the Crown response to follow.
The current block of hearings is set to last until the end of next week and will also include arguments on defence allegations that the U.S. is exceeding its jurisdiction by attempting to prosecute a Chinese citizen for actions that occurred in Hong Kong involving a British bank.
Final arguments on the case for extradition itself — a committal hearing — are scheduled to begin on April 26, along with one last allegation of abuse, concerning allegations the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of the case.
Meng has denied the allegations.