A Hong Kong pro-democracy politician who abruptly fled the city last week fearing jail has had his some of bank accounts frozen amid a national security law investigation.
Ted Hui Chi-fung, 38, who was one of the 15 former pro-democracy lawmakers who resigned from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in November, left the former British colony last week amid a political crackdown that has seen the recent imprisonment of high profile pro-democracy activists such as Joshua Wong and Jimmy Lai.
Hui, who was facing at least nine charges prior to leaving, including criminal damage and perverting the course of justice, initially travelled to Denmark after receiving an invitation from Danish lawmakers. On arrival, he declared his exile on Facebook.
Shortly after Hui’s arrival he discovered that Hong Kong authorities had initially frozen several of his family’s bank accounts, including an account with HSBC.
“It is obvious that the regime has made political retaliation through economic oppression and has used the law to suppress my family in order to force the voices of opposition,” he wrote on Facebook.
According to the local reports, Hong Kong police said on Sunday they were investigating whether Hui had breached the national security law or laundered money with a crowdfunding campaign, and had frozen some accounts with a total of $850,000 (HKD) (£81,886).
The police also responded to media requests stating Hui was being investigated for “colluding with foreign forces” which strictly violates the new law.
The Telegraph had contacted the Hong Kong police for comment but has yet to receive a reply.
Later on Sunday evening, Hui announced that two accounts with HSBC belonging to him and his family had partially been “thawed” and in light of that “transferred their savings to a safe place”
The implementation of the national security law by Beijing in the summer has added political risk on international banks within the city. Beijing expects international banks such as HSBC, whose headquarters are in London, to back the security law.
In response, Washington has already sanctioned key officials including Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and in an interview in November, Lam admitted her US bank accounts were inaccessible meaning she’s left with “piles of cash” in her home.
With both the US and China piling pressure on international businesses in the city, it leaves banks in particular in a difficult dilemma amid the ongoing trade war.