HSBC Facing Chinese Backlash Over Arrest Of Huawei CFO

Banking Group HSBC is facing a backlash by Chinese outlets over its alleged role in the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou.

Meng Wanzhou had been arrested by Canadian authorities at Vancouver airport in December 2018 for alleged sanction busting with Iran and misleading banks, charges which she denies.

However earlier this year Wanzhou lost a legal battle in a Canadian courtroom in her fight against extradition to the United States. The extradition case is ongoing however.

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HSBC allegation

And now London-headquartered HSBC has been dragged into the Wanzhou affair, after a Chinese government-backed website took aim at it on Tuesday.

Reuters reported that state-backed website wrote an editorial, in which they alleged that HSBC had “maliciously” played a role in the arrest of Wanzhou.

“The role of HSBC in the Meng Wanzhou incident is already clear. HSBC’s credibility has also been wiped out,” said the commentary posted on the site – backed by the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group.

“In the US government’s political pursuit of Huawei, HSBC was the one who ‘handed the knife’,” it said in a column written under the byline Tang Hua, and signed by three editors.

According to Reuters, HSBC had issued a statement on Saturday saying it had not participated in the decision by the US Department of Justice to investigate Huawei and that it had no “malice” against the company.

The Chinese website article dismissed HSBC’s denial as “meaningless”.

“Now, wallowing in degradation and with its reputation at rock bottom, HSBC may struggle to continue to enjoy treatment in China where it can break the pot it eats food from,” the column said.

A spokeswoman for HSBC in China reportedly declined to comment on the article.

HSBC reportedly broke from its usual political neutrality last month to back Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong. The group generates the bulk of its revenue in Hong Kong and mainland China.

According to Reuters, other official Chinese media outlets including the People’s Daily newspaper and the China Global Television Network have also targeted HSBC in the past week.

Iranian sanctions

The case of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou centres around sanctions busting with Iran.

In June Reuters reported that newly obtained internal Huawei documents allegedly show Huawei was trying to cover up its relationship with Skycom Tech Co Ltd.

Skycom is the central figure in the long-running extradition of Meng Wanzhou to the United States.

Essentially, the United States accuses both Wanzhou and Huawei of conspiring to defraud HSBC and other banks by misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with Skycom Tech Co Ltd, an alleged front company that operated in Iran.

Huawei has always said that Skycom was a local business partner in Iran, but the US believes it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei’s business in Iran.

But Reuters in June said it now has proof of the “deep links” between Skycom and Wanzhou. It alleges that Huawei’s internal documents show how the Chinese tech titan effectively controlled Skycom.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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