Beijing (AFP) – London-based HSBC bank has denied Chinese media reports that it had “framed” telecom giant Huawei or “fabricated evidence” that led to the arrest of a top company official.
Washington’s investigations into Huawei — for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran — started before the bank’s involvement with the company in late 2016, the lender said Saturday in its first public comments on Huawei’s legal battle in North America.
“HSBC has no malice against Huawei, nor has it framed Huawei,” the bank said in a statement posted on the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
“HSBC has not fabricated evidence or concealed facts, nor will it distort facts or harm any customers for our own benefit.”
The HSBC statement comes a day after Chinese state media, including the communist party mouthpiece People’s Daily, published reports accusing HSBC of lying about Huawei during an investigation by the US department of justice.
The probe led to Canada arresting Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in December 2018.
China’s internet censors blocked access to HSBC’s statement within hours of publication, without offering an explanation.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, is under house arrest in Vancouver, Canada, fighting extradition to the United States.
Washington says Meng had concealed Huawei’s alleged dealing with Iran from lenders including HSBC.
Meng’s lawyers last week said HSBC was well aware of Huawei’s activities in Iran, but claimed ignorance to dodge further US punishment.
The bank has come under pressure as US-China relations sour.
The lender has come under fire in Britain for backing a controversial security law on Hong Kong — one of its biggest markets. The law allows Beijing to curb political freedoms in the semi-autonomous Asian financial hub.