Vancouver police investigate break-in attempt at family home of Huawei’s Sabrina Meng Wanzhou; suspects fled after being confronted by resident

Vancouver police are investigating an attempted break-in at the family home of Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, adding a fresh layer of intrigue to the international furore over her arrest in this west-coast Canadian city at the request of Washington nine days ago.

Police spokesman Constable Jason Doucette said that just before 5.30am on Sunday, a 911 call was received about a home being broken into on West 28th Avenue, in the expensive neighbourhood of Dunbar.

“The suspects fled the area after being challenged by someone in the house,” said Doucette, of the Vancouver Police Department. 

“No one was injured and no arrests have been made. Officers have collected evidence from the scene and will make attempts to identify those responsible for the break-in.”

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Doucette said he could not reveal the street number or the identity of the complainant. But neighbours confirmed that the incident occurred at the C$5.6 million (US$4.2 million) home owned by Liu Xiaozong, Meng’s husband. The property is one of two homes in Vancouver owned by Liu.

Meng said in an affidavit read by her lawyer in a British Columbia Supreme Court bail hearing on Friday that she and Liu had bought the home in 2009. That same year, she had relinquished Canadian permanent residency, although Liu and at least two of the family’s children continued to live there at various times since. Meng said in her affidavit she tried to spend at least two or three weeks in Vancouver every year.

“There were tonnes of police cars, a forensic van, the works,” said one neighbour who declined to give her name on Sunday night.

She said that Meng, who she recognised from recent news coverage, had lived in the home, and said Meng and her partner were “a lovely family, lovely neighbours”.

“I think she’s been treated very poorly,” the neighbour said, citing the tech executive’s arrest on December 1 as she changed planes at Vancouver International Airport, on her way from Hong Kong to Mexico. The US is seeking her extradition to face fraud charges related to Huawei’s supposed breaches of US and EU sanctions against Iran.

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Another neighbour, who also declined to be identified, said the home was currently occupied and that the man of the household had attended the scene of the break-in with police.

The 3,735 sq ft, three-level home, located near the campuses of elite St George’s private school, was darkened on Sunday night. Shutters next to the front door were closed; when the South China Morning Post visited the home on Saturday morning they had been open.

Meng and Liu’s other Vancouver home is a C$16.3 million (US$12.2 million), 8,047 sq ft mansion on Matthews Avenue in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood. That home, bought in 2016, is currently undergoing extensive renovations and appears to be uninhabited.

Equity worth C$14 million in both homes is being offered as non-cash surety as Meng pursues release on bail ahead of what may be a lengthy extradition process. She is now being held at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, in the Vancouver satellite city of Maple Ridge.

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Meng’s arrest has rattled world financial markets, and emerged as a key factor in the US-China trade war.

The treatment of Meng, 46, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, has infuriated Beijing, which has demanded her release.

China’s foreign ministry summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad on Sunday to protest the “unreasonable” arrest, a day after calling in Canada’s representative in Beijing.

“Such a move ignores the law and is unreasonable, unconscionable, and vile in nature,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted China’s Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng as saying in the statement.

Meng’s bail hearing on Friday, attended by about 100 reporters, was adjourned. It will continue on Monday before Mr Justice William Ehrcke.

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