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Huawei, HSBC Strike Deal in Hong Kong Over Documents in Extradition Fight

04/12/2021 | 10:49am EDT

By Dan Strumpf

HONG KONG -- A monthslong legal fight by Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to obtain documents from HSBC Holdings PLC as part of her battle against extradition to the U.S. resulted in a settlement in a Hong Kong courtroom.

At a hearing in Hong Kong's High Court on Monday, lawyers for Ms. Meng and HSBC confirmed that the two sides had struck a deal over the documents. Ms. Meng believes the papers will help her legal fight in Canada, where she is in hearings to try to prevent her extradition on charges related to alleged sanctions-busting sales to Iran.

Ms. Meng turned to the Hong Kong courts after losing an earlier legal battle in the U.K. to force HSBC to hand over the documents. Ms. Meng filed a legal action in Hong Kong in February, just days after a judge in London's High Court declined to order HSBC to hand over the documents, saying he didn't have the jurisdiction to do so.

In Hong Kong on Monday, Judge Linda Chan told the courtroom in a hearing lasting just a few minutes that she approved a deal between the two sides, including on how the documents will be redacted. Few details were disclosed.

While confirming an agreement had been reached, representatives for both Huawei and HSBC didn't elaborate.

U.S. prosecutors have accused Ms. Meng of misleading HSBC about Huawei's business ties in Iran. She was arrested by Canadian police in December 2018 on behalf of the U.S., and has been confined to an area around Vancouver while she fights efforts to extradite her to the U.S.

Central to the case is a meeting that took place in August 2013 between Ms. Meng and HSBC. The U.S. has accused Ms. Meng of misrepresenting the relationship between Huawei and a company called Skycom Tech Co., which did business in Iran, during the meeting. That, U.S. officials allege, led to HSBC clearing millions of dollars in transactions that potentially violated U.S. sanctions laws.

Ms. Meng has denied the U.S. charges and has argued that the extradition request is based on political motivations.

Huawei is the world's largest maker of telecommunications equipment and a global leader in 5G technology. U.S. officials have separately charged the Shenzhen-based company with evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, which the company has denied.

Last month, Huawei reported a steep slowdown in revenue growth for the year, and an unusual reversal in growth during the fourth quarter, as it copes with tough restrictions on its ability to obtain chips made using U.S. technology. Sales of its smartphones have fallen sharply, especially in markets outside of China.

In a separate press conference on Monday, a top Huawei executive acknowledged that the U.S. actions against Huawei have taken a toll, and said the company will increase its focus on software offerings and reduce its reliance on "advanced process techniques" as the company struggles under restrictions on its ability to obtain chips.

Eric Xu, a Huawei deputy chairman, told company analysts gathered in Shenzhen that the company is no longer able to find manufacturers to build its in-house chips due to U.S.-imposed restrictions on suppliers. The shift toward software will help Huawei overcome these shortcomings, he said, adding that the company is also increasing its efforts to design software for autonomous driving and remains on track to bring its self-designed operating system to its smartphones this year.

"We are quite confident that we can continue to survive," Mr. Xu said.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that the U.S. and lawyers for Ms. Meng had been in talks over a deal to resolve the criminal charges against Ms. Meng. Those discussions stalled and are dormant after the two sides failed to bridge differences, according to people familiar with the matter.

Write to Dan Strumpf at daniel.strumpf@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-12-21 1249ET

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ChangeLast1st jan.
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