Bankers at HSBC and Citi who disregard the directive could ‘face charges of fines and imprisonment for seven years,’ according to a letter seen by Bloomberg News.
Hong Kong authorities have sent letters threatening media banker Jimmy Lai with up to seven years in prison if they negotiate with any of his town accounts.
Security Secretary John Lee, who signed the letters seen by Bloomberg News, had previously announced that he had frozen bank accounts linked to the city’s pro-democracy newspaper publisher Apple Daily under a violation of the law. national security in Hong Kong. The letters were sent to HSBC Holdings Plc and Citigroup Inc. earlier this month.
Bankers who disregard the directive could be “liable to a fine and imprisonment for seven years,” the letters agreed.
“I am using power because Lai has been charged with two breaches of treaty with other countries or foreign forces to jeopardize the security of the country,” Lee said in a media statement on Thursday. “It is my duty to write in my notice to the parties concerned what the consequences will be if they do not follow my direction.”
A Citigroup spokesperson said in an email that it had no comment about individual accounts and was required to follow all applicable laws and regulations in the markets in which it operates. An HSBC spokesman declined to comment.
The letters could further speak to investors in the Asian financial team at a time when Beijing tightens its grip on the city. More than 40% of members surveyed by the local American Chamber of Commerce said they could leave Hong Kong, reflecting concerns in the business community about security law and strict procedures. government related to Covid-19.
Lai, a prominent democracy activist who used his Next Digital Ltd. media assets to support the 2019 protests against China, are now in jail for attending unauthorized rallies in Hong Kong. He also faces more serious charges under security law, including “conspiracy” with foreign forces.
A financial adviser to Lai says the amount of money in the accounts is small but represents Hong Kong’s end to a network of international banking relations related to its private wealth, according to Reuters , previously reported to have letters.