Britain鈥檚 high court on Friday blocked Chinese telecom giant Huawei鈥檚 bid to access British bank HSBC鈥檚 internal documents relating to U.S. fraud allegations against its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Meng, 49, was arrested by Canadian police on a U.S. warrant in December 2018 while on a layover in Vancouver, bound for Mexico. The United States is charging her with bank fraud, accusing her of misleading HSBC about Huawei鈥檚 business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
A PowerPoint presentation that Meng gave to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 has been cited by the United States as key evidence against her. Federal prosecutors allege Meng lied in the presentation about Huawei鈥檚 relationship with Skycom Tech Co. Ltd., a firm that operated in Iran, which the United States said was in fact a subsidiary of Huawei.
Meng鈥檚 Canadian lawyers are asserting that the U.S. extradition request was flawed because it omitted key evidence showing Meng did not lie to HSBC about Huawei鈥檚 relationship with Skycom.
On Feb. 12,聽Huawei filed an application in the British high court for access to HSBC鈥檚 internal files, which it hopes will undermine the U.S. case against Meng.
But a high court judge on Friday declined Huawei’s application and ordered Meng’s legal team to pay legal costs of 80,000 pounds ($111,936).
A Huawei spokesman said the firm was “disappointed” by the ruling. HSBC said it was “pleased” with the court’s decision and that Huawei’s application for disclosure was “without merit.”
Meng鈥檚 arrest in 2018 triggered a wave of retaliatory actions by the Chinese regime against Canada. Beijing arbitrarily arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in China, later charging them with espionage.
U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that Huawei, the world鈥檚 largest supplier of telecom gear, poses a security risk to countries that use its equipment for next-generation 5G wireless networks. Their concerns stem from the company鈥檚 ties to the communist regime in Beijing, as well as Chinese law that compels companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies when asked.
Last July, under pressure from the Trump administration, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Huawei from further input into the UK鈥檚 telecoms infrastructure by the end of 2020, and set a deadline of 2027 for the stripping out of existing kit from the country鈥檚 5G network.
HSBC, which makes most of its profits in Asia, has recently drawn fierce criticism from the U.S. and UK governments for supporting the Chinese regime鈥檚 imposition of a draconian national security law on Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, it was criticized by an international coalition of lawmakers for freezing accounts belonging to activists associated with Hong Kong鈥檚 pro-democracy movement.
Justina Wheale, Mary Clark, and Reuters contributed to this report.
Pezou : Huawei Loses UK Court Bid to Access HSBC Files on Iran Fraud Case