Huawei CFO case UPDATE: Meng Wanzhou lawyers ask Canadian judges to introduce additional documents to support her case

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Agencies: British Columbia: In Huawei CFO case last court hearing, Lawyers representing Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou have asked Canadian judges overseeing her extradition case to allow her to introduce additional documents to support her case. 

The lawyers presented part of the documents from HSBC that they said disproved US claims that Wanzhou misled the bank about Huawei’s relationship with Iranian-based Skycom. If the court admits the records, she will use them in a final round of extradition hearings scheduled for August.

Wanzhou’s lawyers obtained the documents from HSBC under a deal overseen by a Hong Kong court in April.

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

The emails and documents submitted so far prove that HSBC executives were aware of connections between Huawei and Skycom, the lawyers argue. This counters US charges that only junior employees of the UK-based bank knew about the true nature of the relationship between Huawei and Skycom.

The records show that a senior bank executive who had the title of “Managing Director” and responsible for risk assessment was fully aware of the connection between Huawei and Skycom. The executive proposed to HSBC’s risk committee that the bank continue its relationship with Huawei and signed four risk assessment reports in support. 

The US also alleges that HSBC relied on a PowerPoint presentation by Wanzhou to assess risks.  However, records presented in court show that HSBC Asia Pacific Risk Committee conducted a risk assessment on Huawei’s relationship with Skycom after a Reuters report in December 2012 that said Skycom’s operations in Iran might violate the US’s Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). 

The Asia Pacific Customer Selection Committee then delivered a report to the bank’s global risk committee suggesting that it is acceptable that HSBC continues its cooperation with Huawei.  

Additionally, the Director of Client Management, China Large Corporates, wrote an email on January 2, 2013, to an HSBC executive and others to further explain the relationship between Huawei and Skycom. The email mentioned that Huawei and Skycom used the same address and had HSBC accounts. Attached with the email was Skycom’s 2011 financial statements, which showed that Skycom’s business was mainly conducted in Iran.  This suggests that HSBC senior executives at this point were already aware of Huawei’s relationship with Skycom and Skycom’s business presence in Iran and could assess the associated business risks based on this information.  

Huawei, China’s biggest technology company, has been caught in the middle of a political and trade war between the US and China. Pundits see the US using Wanzhou as a bargaining chip in the bitter dispute.