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Huawei Wants HSBC Data Access to Block Meng Wanzhou Extradition

Prakash covers news and politics for Vision Times.
Published: February 16, 2021
Meng Wanzhou’s arrest shed the spotlight on Huawei. (Image: via CC BY 4.0)

Chinese tech company Huawei has taken the legal route in the UK to gain access to some internal documents of HSBC. It’s attempting to block the extradition of CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is currently detained in Canada.

Wanzhou, 48, was arrested in Canada in 2018 based on a U.S. warrant. She is being charged for committing bank fraud, misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings with Iran, thereby making the bank breach U.S. sanctions. 

On August 22, 2013, Ms. Meng held a meeting with HSBC executives to give a PowerPoint presentation. During the presentation, Meng allegedly said that Skycom is a Huawei partner and not a subsidiary. Skycom violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran by selling its telecom equipment. 

U.S. authorities say that Meng hid the truth of the Huawei-Skycom relationship. Skycom wasn’t a partner, as Meng claimed but a company in which Huawei owned a controlling stake. HSBC cleared over $7 million in payments from Skycom between 2010 and 2014, unknowingly violating U.S. sanctions. 

However, Meng’s lawyers argue that HSBC did know about the true nature of the relationship between Huawei and Skycom as her PowerPoint presentation had made this fact clear. They allege that U.S. authorities gave Canada an incomplete version of the presentation to get Ms. Meng arrested. 

Meng’s lawyers have sued HSBC to force the bank to disclose the presentation and related documents to prove their point. If they can prove that HSBC knew about Huawei’s controlling stake in Skycom, the lawyers can then prevent Ms. Meng from getting extradited to the United States.

HSBC dismissed Huawei’s application for accessing its documents, calling it meritless 

An HSBC spokesperson told The Epoch Times

“HSBC is not a party to the underlying criminal case in the U.S. or the extradition proceeding in Canada. It would be inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing legal matter.”

HSBC is caught in the middle of a complex situation with both China and the West watching suspiciously. China criticized HSBC for handing over critical information to the U.S., which led to the arrest of Ms. Meng. The bank claims that it only acted in accordance with the law. In the UK, HSBC is being criticized for freezing bank accounts of Hong Kong activists on Beijing’s instructions.

Meng’s attempt to get HSBC documents comes after her request to remove private security guards was denied by a court in late January. Justice William Ehrcke instructed that the 24-hour watch over Meng be continued, both on her property and when she leaves it. 

HSBC bank building
Huawei is suing HSBC to prevent Meng extradition(Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

“The current bail conditions were carefully crafted in an attempt to mitigate the risk of flight by Ms. Meng… An integral component was the supervision and surveillance of Ms. Meng by Lions Gate personnel when she is away from her residence… I remain of the view that the current bail conditions are the minimum required to mitigate Ms. Meng’s risk of flight to an acceptable level. The application … is dismissed,” Ehrcke said in a statement.

Meng is set to appear in court again on March 1, when the next stage of her extradition hearings will be held. Although the hearings are scheduled to end by May, proceedings might be extended depending on the kind of information revealed in the court.

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