Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed today that a Canadian citizen has been detained in Macau, but said there’s no reason to think his case is linked to those of two Canadians being held by Chinese authorities on alleged national security grounds.
Her comments came after reports this weekend from the South China Morning Post, citing local media, about a 61-year-old Canadian who was arrested and is accused of trying to defraud an unnamed entertainment company of $375 million.
The newspaper said the man, whose full name was not given in the articles, allegedly tried to use fake papers to transfer the money from the company’s account to an account in Hong Kong.
Macau is an autonomous Chinese territory and maintains a legal system separate from that of mainland China.
“We have no reason to believe that his detention is in anyway connected with the other cases,” Freeland told reporters, referring to the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been detained in China since December on allegations of endangering national security.
“We are seeking more information and we are seeking consular access.”
The Canadian’s arrest comes against a backdrop of a deepening diplomatic crisis between Canada and China.
Spavor and Kovrig were detained shortly after Canadian authorities in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies, who is wanted by the U.S. on fraud charges.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a 13-count indictment charging Meng and Huawei with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Meng appeared in B.C. Supreme Court today for a bail adjustment hearing, where a judge agreed to a minor change in her bail conditions.
Another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, was recently sentenced to death in China for drug-smuggling offences — a sentence Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Chinese officials of “arbitrarily” applying.