Huawei CFO Meng Seeks HSBC Records Amid U.S. Extradition Fight

Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei

Huawei’s chief financial officer is seeking bank records from HSBC in a bid to prove she didn’t trick lenders into processing transactions that violated U.S. sanctions targeting Iran. Meng Wanzhou, who’s fighting extradition to the U.S. from Canada, asked London’s High Court to grant an order to obtain the records, which she says will show what the bank knew about Huawei’s ties to Iran-linked company Skycom that sparked the extradition request. 

The executive was arrested in Canada on a U.S. handover request in December 2018 and later released on USD7.9 million bail. U.S. authorities are seeking Meng to face fraud charges, alleging that she misled banks into handling transactions that violated American sanctions. 

At the heart of the case lies a Powerpoint presentation Meng gave to HSBC in Hong Kong in 2013. Meng says the presentation made clear that Skycom was a business partner of Huawei and worked with the firm in sales and services in Iran, her lawyer James Lewis said in a court filing made public Friday. U.S. prosecutors and HSBC contest this. They say the presentation was misleading because Meng failed to state that Huawei controlled Skycom’s operations in Iran. The U.S. alleges that because of this, HSBC continued to provide banking services to Huawei, including clearing U.S. dollar transactions related to Skycom’s commerce in Iran, Lewis said. Meng’s alleged deceit is said to have placed HSBC’s economic interests at risk by exposing it to the potential violation of U.S. sanctions. 

Meng denies any wrongdoing. She hopes to use the bank’s records in “in support of her abuse of process and evidential sufficiency arguments in the extradition proceedings,” Lewis said.

‘No Genuine Connection’

Meng’s alleged actions had “no genuine connection” to the United States, her lawyers have previously argued in their bid to end her extradition from Canada. Her lawyers have fought to add an additional allegation of abuse of process to the case, claiming that the United States misrepresented Meng’s actions to Canada in its request for her extradition, and that her actions did not cause HSBC to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Huawei lawyers also submitted seven affidavits from legal experts – including an ex-U.S. ambassador and international law professors in California and the Netherlands – to support their claims.

‘Manifestly unreliable’

Meng’s lawyers submitted testimony from expert witnesses including John Bellinger, a former White House lawyer, as well as a Huawei presentation outlining its relationship with businesses operating in Iran, to back Huawei’s argument that the United States left out key facts about communication with HSBC about Huawei’s operations in Iran when requesting Meng’s extradition from Canada.

The submissions show that the evidence used by the United States as part of their case is “manifestly unreliable – so unreliable and defective – to justify refusing to commit (Meng) for extradition,” lawyers for Huawei wrote.

‘Replete with intentional and reckless error’Huawei lawyers have previously argued that the U.S. extradition request was flawed because it omitted key evidence showing Meng did not lie to HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran. In previously submitted documents, Meng’s lawyers claim the case that the United States submitted to Canada is “so replete with intentional and reckless error” that it violates her rights.