Huawei CFO could be on the hook for more than $1M per year in security costs: expert

The U.S. security expert who acted as bail monitor for convicted billionaire fraudster Bernie Madoff says the cost to watch Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou could easily top $1 million per year.

Meng was released from custody Tuesday on a $10-million bail. She’s facing possible extradition to the U.S. to face charges of violating sanctions against Iran.

Among Meng’s release conditions are the requirements that she wear an electronic ankle bracelet and remain inside her Vancouver home between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

She will also be directly supervised by a private security company, Lions Gate Risk Management.

Meng must pay the costs of that supervision out of pocket, something Nick Casale, a former NYPD officer who wrote and enforced the bail modification agreement for Madoff, said will get expensive.

“I would say monthly costs would be between $100,000 and $150,000,” he said.

“They’re most likely going to be returned law officers, peace officers or law enforcement, and they’re going to be people that are independent, even though they’re going to be paid by the defence and a part of the defence team but they’re going to have their own integrity.

“They’re not going to allow her to do anything that’s in violation of the bail modification.”

If Meng chooses to fight her extradition order, that cost could eventually mount into the millions of dollars.

For example, the case of Lai Changxing, a Chinese businessman who fled to Canada after being implicated in a bribery scandal, dragged on for 12 years before he was finally extradited.

But while Casale said that both Madoff and Meng were bail subjects with deep pockets and a potential incentive to flee, he added that in many ways Meng’s supervision will be easier than Madoff’s.

“Madoff was the ultimate criminal with $65 billion. There were concerns that Madoff himself may commit suicide. There were greater concerns that someone who would take a loss in the Madoff case may look to take vengeance against Madoff and kill him,” he said.

“We had these extra threats that they may not have on this case so we had to make sure that Madoff was in his apartment.”

Despite those differences, Casale said he views Meng’s release conditions — which permit her to travel between Vancouver, Richmond and parts of North Vancouver — to be overly lax, telling Global News that if he’d been involved, he wouldn’t have allowed so much mobility.

Both Madoff’s and Meng’s conditions require electronic monitoring, technology Casale said he doesn’t have much faith in.

Despite that, Casale said that while it’s not impossible that Meng could attempt to flee Canada, he doesn’t think it’s likely — largely because she will also be under direct supervision.

“I don’t want to make the mistake they made when they said the Titanic was unsinkable,” he said.

“There is always the remote possibility that something could occur. But I think the defence, in obtaining a security firm, has put in place all of the necessary steps to guarantee that the defendant doesn’t escape.”

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