Huawei confirms exec seeking HSBC records in Hong Kong court

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend her extradition hearing at the Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada January 22, 2020. — Reuters pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend her extradition hearing at the Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada January 22, 2020. — Reuters pic

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HONG KONG, Mar 11 — Chinese tech giant Huawei confirmed today that senior executive Meng Wanzhou is taking HSBC to court in Hong Kong to access banking records she says will help her battle extradition from Canada to the US.

Chief financial officer Meng — whose father is the company’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei — has been in a two-year battle against extradition over charges Huawei violated US sanctions on Iran.

Meng is accused in the US of defrauding HSBC by falsely misrepresenting links between Huawei and a company that sold telecoms equipment to Iran.

Last month she lost a similar bid at Britain’s High Court, which ruled the court in Canada where the extradition battle is taking place was the “appropriate forum” to decide whether the HSBC records were necessary for a fair hearing.

Now her lawyers are hoping Hong Kong’s courts will rule in her favour. 

“The application made by Ms. Meng in Hong Kong is a request to obtain evidence under Hong Kong Law to demonstrate her innocence in respect of the allegations made against her by the United States of America,” a Huawei spokesperson told AFP. 

“Whatever the court rules, Ms. Meng will continue defending her legitimate rights in the Canadian proceedings.”

The first hearing will take place today according to the website of Hong Kong’s judiciary.

HSBC did not respond to requests for comment.

Meng’s arrest on a US warrant during a Vancouver stopover in December 2018 — and Beijing’s subsequent detention of two Canadians — caused a major diplomatic rift between Canada and China.

She has denied hiding Huawei’s relationship with the covert subsidiary Skycom in Iran from HSBC and her lawyers say the documents will help prove that.

Her extradition case in Vancouver is expected to end in mid-May, barring appeals.

The Hong Kong filing comes at a time of intense scrutiny of Hong Kong’s judiciary as Beijing’s cracks down on dissent in the semi-autonomous financial hub.

The city’s independent courts and common law traditions are a core part of its reputation as a reliable and dependable business hub. 

But China’s authoritarian leaders have begun exercising ever greater direct control over the city following huge democracy protests in 2019.

Last year it imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, including granting Beijing’s courts jurisdiction in some cases.

Beijing and Hong Kong authorities are also drawing up broad plans to ensure all politicians and public officials are “staunch patriots”, including within the judiciary.

HSBC is headquartered in London but has a major presence in Hong Kong. 

It makes the vast majority of its profits in Asia, especially Hong Kong and China, and has publicly backed Beijing’s national security law. — AFP

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