London was the venue for the latest development in Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s battle against extradition from Canada to the US where she faces charges of bank and wire fraud and violation of US sanctions. On 12 February 2021, lawyers for Ms Meng applied to the High Court for an order for disclosure of HSBC’s records under the Bankers Book of Evidence Act 1879.
Ms Meng’s legal team is seeking access to documents relevant to a 2013 meeting at which she is alleged to have misled HSBC executives as to the true nature of Huawei’s relationship with its subsidiary, Skycom, and its activities in Iran. It is alleged that Ms Meng’s representations put the bank at risk of violation of US sanctions.
Ms Meng disputes the allegation that she misled the bank and has accused US authorities of editing the content of a PowerPoint presentation she made to executives setting out Huawei’s relationship with Skycom. Last year, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled that this argument had an “air of reality” and Ms Meng could pursue it at her extradition hearing in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
A spokesperson for HSBC labelled the disclosure application “without merit”. The bank has come under significant pressure in China following Ms Meng’s arrest at Vancouver airport in 2018. After responding to a US Department of Justice request for information, the bank was forced to deny Chinese allegations that it colluded with US authorities to “set a trap” for Ms Meng. The allegations against the bank saw its Hong Kong listed share price fall dramatically and public opinion in China turn against it.
Fordham J indicated that a draft judgment would be handed down this week.