Thu, Nov 22, 2007 - Page 11 News List

China removes withdrawal limits from some banks

AFP , HONG KONG AND BEIJING

China has lifted restrictions on cash withdrawals from southern banks after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said the move to stem illegal money flooding into Hong Kong was inappropriate, a report said yesterday.

Wen said on Monday there were other ways to prevent the flow of underground cash and that depositors should not be barred from accessing their own money from Shenzhen banks bordering Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post said.

The Shenzhen Development Bank, China Merchants Bank and Citic Bank confirmed they had gotten notices from the People's Bank of China in Shenzhen to cancel the limits, the newspaper said.

Media reported last week that withdrawal limit from banks in Shenzhen has been capped at 30,000 yuan (US$4,000), and some banks have limited or stopped cash withdrawals from ATM machines.

Mainland papers said the moves were aimed at curbing the illegal underground transfer of cash into the territory.

The report yesterday said that half the almost 200 billion yuan in cash withdrawn across China in the first nine months of the year came from bank branches in Shenzhen.

Billions are believed to have been pumped into Hong Kong stocks through underground channels in the past few months.

The move comes as investors await the much-vaunted scheme to allow mainland individuals to invest in the Hong Kong bourse.

Separately, state media reported yesterday that the Chinese government was prepared to bar polluting companies from raising money on the stock market, as part of efforts to clean up its devastated environment.

"Enterprises found guilty of environmental violations or failing to meet pollutant discharge requirements will not be allowed to list their shares," said Zhou Shengxian (周生賢), head of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

Listed companies will be required to "open up their environmental records to public scrutiny," Zhou was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

He also warned that from 2009, all enterprises that discharge pollutants must obtain environmental permits.

"Otherwise, they will not be allowed to continue, or start, operations," he said.

However, the EPA is tiny compared with the economic bureaucracies, and traditionally has held little clout over policymaking.

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