Bank account freeze won't undermine system: govt - RTHK
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Bank account freeze won't undermine system: govt

2020-12-07 HKT 10:47
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  • Bank account freeze won't undermine system: govt
Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Monday rejected suggestions that the freezing of bank accounts belonging to people linked to national security cases risked undermining faith in the SAR's financial system.

Chan was questioned at a meeting of Legco's financial affairs panel after former lawmaker Ted Hui complained that his accounts and those of his family members had been frozen on their departure from Hong Kong last week. Hui said on Sunday that his relatives' accounts and some of his own had later been unfrozen.

Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai raised the question of Hui's accounts and asked Chan whether faith in the SAR's banking system and its status as a financial centre would be undermined.

Chan responded: "Cheng's accusation is based on speculation only; as I said, I would not comment on individual cases here."

"As for the position of Hong Kong as a financial centre, and also the robustness of the banking and monetary systems in Hong Kong, well, last year we had various disturbances and this year we have Covid-19 and there's also sanctions from the US," he added.

"For over a year we've faced severe challenges but our system remains robust and therefore there is no need to answer Dr Cheng's question further."

Hui, who was on bail for protest-related offences, announced last week that he was going into exile in the United Kingdom.

He claimed that at least five accounts belonging to himself and his relatives had been frozen by various banks including HSBC. The accounts were said to contained millions of dollars of the family's life savings.

An HSBC spokesman said on Monday that the bank would not comment on individual cases, but it was "extremely disappointed" that facts had been distorted.

The spokesman said the bank would closely monitor any negative reports in the market and strengthen monitoring of relevant accounts based on the circumstances. It said its operations must comply with the law in relevant jurisdictions.

Police said in response to inquiries on Hui's case that they were investigating an unspecified person for national security offences and potential money-laundering relating to a crowd-funding initiative. Officers said HK$850,000 had been frozen.

Hui said money he raised to pay for private prosecutions in protest-related cases had been held by a law firm.