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LIVE: Bail hearing resumes for Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO arrested on fraud allegations




The Crown asked what would happen if Meng wanted to go somewhere the security team doesn’t go.

“If there was a higher risk of potential breach of condition that they weren’t satisfied they could manage, they would refuse her attending that event,” Filer replied.

“Our responsibility would be to enforce the conditions of release imposed by the court,” Filer told the judge, adding he and his staff are prepared to conduct a citizen’s arrest if necessary.

After a description of proposed travel restrictions for Meng and the security detail that would be assigned to her oversight — Lions Gate COO Doug Maynard would head up the team, with rotating pairs of security guards on eight-hour shifts, 24 hours per day — the Crown asked Filer whether his company had ever previously been involved in monitoring a person on bail.

“No,” he replied.

Following a brief recess, the court heard from Stephen Tan, co-founder and director of operations for Recovery Science Corp., a company that specializes in electronic monitoring technologies.

Recovery Science has roughly 114 monitoring cases currently active, Tan told the court. The company uses a GPS chip in concert with a SIM card to provide minute-by-minute updates on a subject of monitoring.

In Meng’s case, Tan told the court, surveillance would occur 24 hours per day and account for any curfews by creating zones of restriction during certain hours of the day.

Asked whether a subject of Recovery Science’s GPS monitoring had ever successfully fled, Tan replied, “Yes. One.”

After a discussion around the technicalities of Recovery Science’s monitoring devices, Tan noted the wearable device itself can be easily removed with scissors. This, however, would trigger an alert, he said, adding the device uses the Rogers 3G cellular network.

Rogers currently distributes Huawei products through its retail sales network in Canada and has a partnership through its media properties to “build awareness” of the Huawei brand, according to a 2017 statement on Huawei’s website. In a statement submitted to StarMetro last week, Rogers declined to comment on Meng’s arrest.

Martin, Meng’s lawyer, argued his client was a woman of character and dignity with an unblemished record and deep respect for the rule of law. If released on bail, he said, it’s “inconceivable” that she would throw away a life’s work by failing to comply with court orders.

Meng’s husband, Liu Xiaozong, has agreed to become her community surety and pledged both a large cash deposit and the two homes in his name as further surety, said Martin. But Martin admitted he was unsure of Liu’s immigration status and faced questions regarding what assurance could be given that Liu would remain by his wife’s side in Canada, as promised.

In response, Martin pointed to a detailed affidavit submitted by Liu in support of his pledge, including documentation of his passport, titles and current balance in mortgage. Liu’s passport, however, has a visa which expires on Feb. 6, 2019.

It is unclear which country issued Liu’s passport, though it was implied his current trip to Canada was undertaken on a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport.

Hong Kong SAR passports are issued only to permanent residents of Hong Kong, but holding such a passport does not preclude simultaneous possession of a passport from another country.

According to Martin, Liu entered Canada last week as a lawful visitor, and should be entitled to remain in the country for six months.

But the U.S. has not yet formally made an extradition request, noted the presiding judge, Justice William Ehrcke. U.S. authorities have a 60-day window to issue such a request, and could theoretically choose not to issue one at all, he said. The reality must be considered, he added, that in the event of an extradition hearing, proceedings could go on for months or even years.

Meng’s lawyer proposed several arrangements to ensure Liu could legally remain in Canada as his wife’s custodian – a primary condition for Meng’s potential release on bail, according to the judge. The offer of money as surety, Ehrcke added, is a secondary consideration.

Money can be considered expendable, the judge said.

Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley took further issue with Liu’s offer to act as Meng’s surety, saying the husband has a “lack of connection to this jurisdiction.” The prosecutor pointed out Meng’s permanent resident card expired 9 years ago, while her B.C. identification card expired 12 years ago. And her defence includes no letters of reference from Canadians, he added.

This, he said, proves Meng has no meaningful connection to Canada.

The Crown emphasized Meng’s liability as a flight risk, and the judge suggested he understood that should surveillance fail, Meng was positioned to exploit that failure more successfully than the average person.

Gibb-Carsley also voiced opposition to Liu acting as surety, suggesting, “if Ms. Meng were to flee … Mr. Liu would not be left behind.” He proposed surety be changed to a split between cash – at $7.5 million – and property.

If Meng were to be allowed bail, he added, he would prefer she be on house arrest 24 hours a day, rather than under electronic monitoring in restricted geographic zones as suggested by the defence.

The allegations against Meng — that she knowingly violated U.S. sanctions and misled financial institutions — were first revealed to the public during Day 1 of her bail hearing on Friday. A warrant from the Eastern District of New York alleges Meng knew Huawei was operating a company called SkyCom to do business with Iran, which has been subject to U.S. sanctions since 1979.

The U.S. authorities claim Meng committed fraud by telling an HSBC executive her company was in compliance with U.S. sanctions against Iran limiting communication technology. U.S. authorities further argue Meng broke the law when she told the banker that Huawei and SkyCom, another telecommunications company, were separate entities.

“The allegation is SkyCom is Huawei,” said Gibb-Carsley, the Crown prosecutor, on Friday.

Martin countered, saying Huawei once owned shares in SkyCom and Meng sat on the company’s board, but the shares in the company were sold after 2009 and SkyCom became an independent contractor to Huawei.

The Crown argued Friday that Meng’s vast wealth means no surety or bail amount would deter her from fleeing to China should bail be granted. Meng’s defence argued her familial and economic ties to the city — as well as the reputation of her family — means she poses no flight risk.

Meng’s arrest sparked outrage from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who called her detention “unreasonable, unconscionable and vile in nature” and warned of “grave consequences” if she is not released.

And while Canada is obliged to observe its long-standing extradition treaty with the U.S., it has also been looking elsewhere — including to China — to establish new trade relationships during a rocky period with its largest trading partner.

This puts Meng’s arrest in Vancouver at the heart of tensions simmering between foreign powers seeking to reorient themselves to the reality of an ascendant China.

Huawei is the largest global supplier of hardware and infrastructure for both personal mobile users and network providers. The company’s ability to underbid the competition has made them an attractive partner for governments looking to develop 5G networks — a technological initiative widely seen as the future of connectivity.

But the telecommunications giant has also been the subject of suspicion over the possibility its technology may offer a “back door” to surveillance by the Chinese government — a claim Huawei has categorically denied.

The United States, Australia and New Zealand have banned the company from participating in the construction of 5G networks because of security concerns. Washington has been increasing pressure on Canada and Britain — the other two members of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — to follow suit.

Huawei is currently in partnership with leading Canadian universities across the country as well as companies such as Telus, with whom it is developing interconnected 5G networks in Canada.

Meng’s bail hearing will continue Tuesday.

Follow investigative reporter Michael Mui (@mui24hours) below for live coverage of Day 2 of the bail hearing.

With files from Melanie Green

Michael Mui is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @mui24hours

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer

Joanna Chiu is assistant managing editor of StarMetro Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachi


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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