HSBC Holdings has denied that the resignation of its Greater China head, Helen Wong, is connected to the bank’s alleged involvement in the US investigation of Huawei, a spokesperson told Caixin.
Wong’s resignation, confirmed by internal emails, marks the bank’s second high-level executive departure in a week. The spokesperson denied that Wong’s resignation was connected to the surprise departure last week of former HSBC CEO John Flint, or with the bank’s recent decision to sack nearly 4,000 employees.
An internal investigation by HSBC in late 2016 and 2017 found that Huawei maintained close financial ties to a suspected front company in Iran years after purportedly selling the unit, as the bank was trying to get the US Department of Justice to dismiss criminal charges of bank misconduct relative to US sanctions, according to Reuters.
The bank’s findings were later used by the DOJ to help bring its current criminal case against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, who is under house arrest in Vancouver.
The bank has been lobbying to convince China that it was not responsible for Meng’s arrest and insisted that the DOJ applied great pressure to share information.
Wong has decided to leave to pursue an external opportunity, the spokesperson said, adding that her role will be dropped and the Greater China region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, would be run by the respective country heads, according to Reuters.
Greater China is HSBC’s biggest profit driver, but the banking sector outlook in the region has been clouded by the tit-for-tat tariff war between China and the US, as well as unrest in Hong Kong.
Wong, who joined HSBC in 1992 and rose to become its China CEO before being given the newly created role of Greater China chief in 2015, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.
Last month HSBC also announced the departure of the head of its U.S. business, Patrick Burke, after three decades with the bank. Burke will be replaced by Citigroup’s Michael Roberts.