HSBC says its decision to close an account being used to collect donations for Hong Kong's protesters was "unrelated to the current HK situation".
A brief statement regarding the closure of the Spark Alliance HK account was posted on the bank's Facebook account on Friday lunchtime, as scores of people gathered opposite the HSBC Building in Central to denounce the move.
On Thursday, the police seized HK$70 million dollars in donations the group had collected and arrested four members "on suspicion of money laundering".
"We understand there are questions relating to the closure of an account. We never take the decision to close an account lightly. We’d like to reiterate that our decision to close the account in November 2019 is unrelated to the current HK situation," HSBC's social media post said.
"Whenever we spot activity differing from the stated purpose of the account or we identify unusual transactions, we will work with our customers to obtain the right information. Over the last few months in working with the customer these requirements were not met and therefore we closed their account."
After around an hour, the Facebook post had attracted around two thousand comments, the majority of them negative, and a good number accusing the bank of "betraying" Hongkongers.
"No need to explain to HK citizens. They will close accounts and choose another bank for their financial services. Please reserve more time to explain to the international media and US Congress," said one.
Others suggested the bank drop the "H" for Hong Kong from its name, and rebrand itself as just the Shanghai Banking Corporation.
Some people also warned that HSBC should expect to see some "renovations" – a term used by protesters to refer to vandalism.