Former Hong Kong legislator Ted Hui (許智峯) has stepped up his criticism of HSBC after the bank’s chief executive Noel Quinn reached out to him personally to explain why the lender froze his accounts after he fled the territory for the UK.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, which included a photograph of part of the letter he received from Quinn, Hui wrote that HSBC had “failed to provide the legal basis” for freezing his accounts and those of his family members, and did not explain why his family was also “collectively punished.”
Hui, a democracy advocate, said that Quinn wrote in the personal e-mail that the bank had no choice in blocking his accounts after a demand from the police.
An HSBC spokeswoman declined to comment on specific accounts.
British lawmakers need to question the bank’s actions and there should be “corresponding international sanctions to be imposed upon HSBC,” Hui wrote.
The London-based bank has been walking a tightrope as it struggles to avoid getting caught in the complicated geopolitics of Hong Kong, where pro-democracy legislators have been disqualified, charged, arrested and fled into exile amid a crackdown.
HSBC has been reprimanded in Washington and London over its support for Beijing’s National Security Law in Hong Kong, the lender’s biggest market.
“HSBC is in a difficult position,” said John Burns, honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong who specializes in politics. “It’s a foreign bank, but has a lot of business here [Hong Kong] and on the mainland, and also comes under the heavy hand of [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo.”
Hong Kong police previously said that the move to block Hui’s accounts was based on a probe into his crowd-funding efforts.
Hui was among those arrested in connection with a protest at the Hong Kong Legislative Council in May last year.
He was out on bail when he fled to the UK.
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