After his arrest in 2021, Mr. Zheng reportedly defended his actions, saying his intention was to facilitate connections between two Canadian companies and Spacety China, as reported by Le Journal de Montréal.
On the opening day of his trial on Sept. 22, Crown prosecutor Marc Cigana presented a different perspective, contending that Mr. Zheng’s intention was to show preference to the Chinese company.
It was Mr. Zheng who initiated contact with the Canadian companies, offering them services through the Chinese company, according to Le Journal de Montréal. When Ewan Reid, founder and CEO of Mission Control Space Services Inc., opted not to collaborate with Spacety China, Mr. Zheng persisted to the extent that Mr. Cigana referred to it as “harassment” in his statements at the Longueuil courthouse in Quebec.
The defendant allegedly sought to establish direct connections with the Icelandic government in order for Spacety to construct a ground station in Iceland. By reaching out to Mr. Reid, the brother of the Nordic country’s first lady, Eliza Reid, he asserted the project would be beneficial for Iceland.
“Is it really in Canada’s public interest for Spacety to have a ground station in Iceland?” Mr. Cigana asked.
He also argued that Mr. Zheng sought to advance the interests of Spacety by recommending it to another Canadian company under the pretext the Chinese firm could provide them with products at lower prices compared to local competitors.
Notably, several of these interactions with the Canadian companies occurred during Mr. Zheng’s six-month unpaid leave. Reports indicate he continued his association with the Chinese company even after he resumed employment, according to Le Journal de Montréal. However, Mr. Zheng hasn’t declared these activities to the CSA, despite his employer requiring that he disclose all his contacts outside Canada, particularly those with China.
Mr. Zheng reportedly told the police after his arrest that he had not received any payment from Spacety during the time he offered his service. However, Mr. Cigana found this explanation highly improbable, saying, “It is not logical. No one volunteers, takes a day off to help a space company. We volunteer for a food bank, not for a space company.”
Mr. Zheng, who was a resident of the Montreal suburb of Brossard, was arrested on Dec. 7, 2021, at age 61.
Mr. Zheng resigned from the CSA in September 2019. One month later, he secured employment at Spacety and eventually took on the position of CEO for the European division located in Luxembourg.