HSBC on Friday issued two statements regarding the closure of an account used to collect donations for protesters, but the details behind the police action remained unclear as public anger over the seizure of HK$70 million snared the bank deeper into the controversy.
Hours after issuing a statement saying it had decided to close the account used by Spark Alliance HK, the bank posted another one that seemed to indicate that it was the client that asked for it to be closed.
"Our decision is completely unrelated to the Hong Kong Police’s arrest of the four individuals on 19 December 2019. We closed the account in November 2019 following direct instruction from the customer," the bank said in a second statement posted on Facebook.
"Our decision is in accordance to international regulatory standards and is unrelated to the current Hong Kong situation. Global regulators expect banks to perform due diligence reviews on customer accounts regularly," the statement continued.
But the Chinese version of the statement was different to the English one, saying the account was closed after the client instructed the bank on what to do with the money it contained.
An earlier statement on the account closure came as dozens protested near the HSBC Building in Central.
"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," the post said.
The millions of dollars raised by Spark Alliance HK was to be used to support protesters in financial difficulty, as well as to pay for medical expenses for those injured by the police, and the legal fees of those brought before the courts.
Police said on Thursday that they have arrested four people from Spark Alliance HK "on suspicion of money laundering".
Last updated: 2019-12-20 HKT 18:44