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MPs accuse HSBC ‘doing dirty work’ for Beijing

HSBC ‘doing dirty work’ for Beijing: MPs blast bank for denying Hong Kong customers who fled to the UK access to their own savings

HSBC has been accused of ‘doing the dirty work of the Chinese Communist party’ after denying customers who fled from Hong Kong to the UK access to their own savings.

A scathing report from the all-party parliamentary group on Hong Kong also attacked the London-based bank’s support for the anti-democracy laws imposed on the territory by Beijing.

More than 88,000 people have escaped from Hong Kong to Britain since early 2021 after the harsh crackdown by China.

More than 88,000 people have escaped from Hong Kong to Britain since early 2021 after the harsh crackdown by China.

But the parliamentary group found that on top of brutalising dissidents, the Communist regime ‘also seeks to financially isolate those who’ve turned to the British Government for safety and support, denying them the pension and personal savings they have spent their lives paying into’.

It said this was the latest example of HSBC kowtowing to Beijing to protect its profits.

At stake are Mandatory Provident Funds (MPFs), a compulsory pensions savings scheme for Hong Kong residents.

The funds are managed by banks including HSBC, which was founded in the territory when it was under British control and makes most of its money in Asia.

Permanent departure from Hong Kong is supposed to give savers the right to withdraw money. 

But last year the MPF authority said a British National Overseas (BNO) visa – used by people fleeing to the UK – could not be used as proof to do so.

The report found that by going along with this, HSBC was adding to its record of ‘underhand collusion’ with Beijing. 

It said the effect on many Hong Kongers was ‘devastating’ and may have meant some could not leave.

The report added: ‘It may even lead to Hong Kongers having to return back to Hong Kong and put their lives at risk because they could not afford to settle in the UK.’

But it said HSBC’s reliance on Hong Kong as a profit centre ‘means it cannot afford to attract Beijing’s ire, and there have been a number of decisions where it has been forced to endorse the Chinese Communist party line’.

Alistair Carmichael MP, co-chair of the group, said the bank was ‘doing the dirty work of the Chinese Communist Party’. He called on the Government to pressure it to ‘act better than this’.

‘The UK taxpayer has offered the hand of friendship to people fleeing the Chinese government in Hong Kong,’ Carmichael said.

‘A bank headquartered in London has picked the other side. We have a range of sanctions against individuals who are complicit in human rights abuses and that’s what’s going on in Hong Kong.

‘If sanctions have to be applied to directors of HSBC then our government’s got to be prepared to make that clear to them.’

HSBC is also criticised for freezing the accounts of pro-democracy activists and backing the National Security Law. 

Its chief executive Noel Quinn was grilled in 2021 by a select committee over Hong Kong and said it was not his position to make ‘moral or political judgments’ and that he had to ‘comply with the law’.

HSBC said: ‘Like all banks, we have to obey the law, and instructions of the regulators in every region in which we operate.’

It said it followed the Hong Kong regulator’s guidance on MPFs, and the regulator had said a BNO was not ‘evidence of the right of abode outside of Hong Kong’.


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