The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.


All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Who needs gunboats?

A ruling by a court in Denver, Colorado, threatened to frustrate all the Wharf group's dealings with US banks. US firms may be entitled to seek redress from their own courts - even if the dispute is on the other side of the globe - but to Hong Kongers this seems like US imperialism. Steven Irvine reports.

"The Americans are doing what the British did in the 19th century," says a Hong Kong-based lawyer. "They are the imperialistic power of the late 20th and probably the 21st century."

This is the lesson top Hong Kong company Wharf has learnt in a precedent-setting case that has far-reaching consequences for non-American companies. Wharf was recently found guilty of breaking a contract with a US firm in Hong Kong. But it wasn't a Hong Kong court that passed the verdict. It was a court in Denver, Colorado - a city with no jurisdiction over Hong Kong. This fact aside, the court in Denver still insisted its verdict was binding and sought to enforce it. To howls of protest it forced Wharf to accept its verdict. In effect, it deployed a modern-day gunboat.

When Wharf refused to pay the damages the Denver court prevented the Hong Kong property conglomerate from dealing with US banks, and severed a $5.2 billion credit facility with Chase Manhattan. US banks were advised by their legal counsels to take a cautious approach to Wharf lest they face large fines for contempt of court, or worse.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.

SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TODAY

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually

FREE 7 DAY TRIAL

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors

LOGIN NOW

Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.

By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree