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HSBC’s role in the US lawsuit against Huawei called into question

HSBC’s role in the US lawsuit against Huawei called into question

Lawyers for Huawei argue HSBC improperly aided the US to indict CFO Meng Wanzhou

International banking group HSBC is being called to account for its role in the US case against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

In new court filings, Meng’s lawyers argue that the documents submitted by US prosecutors have been manipulated to support the accusation against Meng. In particular, the lawyers say U.S. authorities omitted key parts of a PowerPoint presentation Wengzhou is alleged to have given to the HSBC executive.

The omitted statements include this comment: “As a business partner of Huawei, Skycom works with Huawei in sales and service in Iran” and Huawei “has a normal and controllable business cooperation with Skycom”.

Lawyers for Huawei argued the omissions show Meng gave the bank the facts it needed to assess the risk of doing business with Huawei.

Wanzhou is fighting extradition to the US in a Canadian court. She is accused of lying to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in August 2013 about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom, a company which the US government charged violated its sanctions on Iran.

HSBC denies it was involved in the US decision to pursue Huawei. The bank released a message on the Chinese social media platform WeChat on July 27 saying: “The timeline of events in the Huawei case makes it absolutely clear that HSBC did not prompt the investigation of Huawei. US government scrutiny of Huawei began long before HSBC Group got caught up in the case in late 2016.”

The Trump administration has been waging a war of attrition against Chinese commercial interests for the last two years. Huawei, the biggest technology company to come out of China, has been caught in the middle of this political maelstrom.

The US has labelled Huawei a national security threat with close ties to the Chinese government and military. It has been leading an international campaign to stop the company from building 5G networks around the world. The Trump administration has also banned US companies from selling technology to Huawei.

Wanzhou lawyers allege there was a destruction of the integrity of the judicial process by U.S. President Donald Trump and other senior members of the administration by their intention to use Wanzhou as a bargaining chip in the trade dispute.

HSBC is one of the largest foreign banks operating in China. Although its headquarters are in London, the group makes up to 80 per cent of its profits in Asia.

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