Huawei loses court bid for release of HSBC records in finance chief’s case

Huawei’s attempts to stop the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder, have suffered a heavy blow after it failed to convince a London court to force HSBC to hand over documents related to the case.

Justice Fordham, a high court judge in England, refused Huawei’s application to force HSBC to hand over internal documents related to a meeting between Meng and HSBC bankers in a Hong Kong restaurant in 2013, when the Chinese technology company’s relationship to a subsidiary called Skycom was discussed.

Lawyers for Meng are attempting to stop her extradition to the US from Canada, where she was detained in 2018, to face charges of bank and wire fraud related to allegations that Huawei conducted business in Iran in contravention of US sanctions via Skycom.

The judge said he had no jurisdiction to make the order that Huawei sought. He also refused the application on grounds of interpretation.

Huawei had sought to apply rules set in an 1879 statute on bankers’ books to force HSBC to hand over the documents. The judge decided that the law defined “books” as ledgers and similar entries and not “everything that a bank has, or does, or writes down, in the course of its ordinary business as a bank”.

Huawei was ordered to pay £80,000 to cover HSBC’s costs.

In reaction to the court’s decision, the Chinese company said: “Huawei is disappointed by today’s court ruling. The pursuit of justice benefits from access to relevant information and clarity of fact. Huawei remains confident in Meng Wanzhou’s innocence and will continue to support her pursuit of justice and freedom.”

The bank, according to an indictment, said Huawei had “repeatedly misrepresented” its business dealing in Iran. Huawei disputes that HSBC was deceived and its lawyers had argued that Meng’s legal team needed access to documents that the bank had provided to US authorities to defend itself against those claims.

HSBC’s entanglement in the diplomatic row has increased the pressure on the London-based bank, which has been struggling to navigate geopolitical tensions between the US, UK and China in recent years.

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