On Friday, Britain’s high court barred Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s attempt to access the internal records of British bank HSBC relating to U.S. fraud charges against its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.
In December 2018, while on a layover in Vancouver, bound for Mexico, Meng, 49, was arrested by Canadian police on a U.S. warrant. The U.S. charges her of bank fraud, accusing her of misleading HSBC about the business activities of Huawei in Iran, causing the bank to breach U.S. sanctions.
Meng’s Canadian lawyers say that the U.S. request for extradition was faulty because it ignored crucial facts showing that Meng did not lie to HSBC about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom.
On Feb. 12, Huawei lodged an application for access to HSBC’s internal files with the British high court, which it hopes would weaken the U.S. case against Meng.
But on Friday, a high court judge rejected Huawei’s application and ordered Meng’s legal team to pay 80,000 pounds ($111,936) in legal costs.
The company was “disappointed” by the decision, a Huawei spokesman said. HSBC said it was “pleased” with the decision of the court and that the application for disclosure by Huawei was “without merit.”
The 2018 arrest of Meng sparked a series of retaliatory measures against Canada by the Chinese regime. In China, Beijing arbitrarily detained Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, Canadian citizens, later charging them with espionage.
U.S. officials have repeatedly cautioned that Huawei, the largest supplier of telecommunications equipment in the world, poses a security risk to countries using its equipment for 5G cellular networks of the next decade. Their concerns stem from the company’s links to Beijing’s communist government, as well as Chinese legislation that, when questioned, requires businesses to collaborate with intelligence agencies.
Under pressure from the Trump administration last July, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson barred Huawei from further entry into the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure by the end of 2020, and set a deadline of 2027 for the withdrawal of the country’s current 5G network kit.
Recently, HSBC, which makes most of its profits in Asia, has drawn fierce criticism from the U.S. and UK governments for endorsing the imposition of a punitive national security law on Hong Kong by the Chinese regime.
An international alliance of lawmakers was criticized earlier this month for freezing accounts belonging to activists affiliated with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.