Huawei CFO loses High Court bid for access to HSBC records

Meng Wanzhou said they may help in fight against extradition from Canada to the US

Meng Wanzhou of Huawei.

Meng Wanzhou of Huawei.

 

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has lost a High Court bid to obtain banking records from HSBC which she said may help her fight against extradition to the US from Canada.

Ms Meng, chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant, is accused in the US of defrauding the bank by false misrepresentation in relation to Huawei’s links to a company which sold telecoms equipment to Iran – potentially violating US sanctions.

She disputes the claims made against her and mounted a bid at the High Court in London to be given access to HSBC documents she believed would support her case in her extradition battle.

But in a ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Fordham rejected Ms Meng’s application and ordered her to pay £80,000 towards HSBC’s legal costs.

The judge said the Canadian court which considers whether Ms Meng should be extradited to the US is the “appropriate forum” to consider whether she has a fair hearing.

He added: “By contrast, I have no real confidence that I am properly equipped to judge whether and if so what HSBC documents would be needed to secure a fair hearing for the applicant in Canada.”

HSBC argued Ms Meng’s application should be rejected at a remote court hearing last week.

Her barrister told Mr Justice Fordham at a hearing last week that litigation started following an allegation relating to a potential violation of US sanctions against Iran.

James Lewis said that nine years ago Reuters reported that a company in Iran named Skycom Tech had tried to sell computer equipment made by a US firm to a customer in Iran, in potential violation of US sanctions – and reports said Skycom was closely associated with Huawei.

He said HSBC had made “inquiries of Huawei”, following which Ms Meng met an executive at the bank in Hong Kong in August 2013.

Mr Lewis told the judge that the US’s case was founded upon what were said to be “misrepresentations” at that meeting.

He said it was alleged that Ms Meng “failed to state” that Huawei controlled Skycom’s operations in Iran.

Mr Lewis said Ms Meng was detained at Vancouver airport in December 2018 and the US made an extradition request to Canadian authorities in January 2019.

He said there were “compelling grounds” to believe that the case against Ms Meng in extradition proceedings had been “materially mis-stated”, and that HSBC “was not in fact misled”.

Mr Lewis said Ms Meng had asked the Supreme Court of British Columbia to stay extradition proceedings “as an abuse of the court’s process”. – PA