US State Department inquires about HSBC freezing account, says exile Ted Hui

2020.12.14
US State Department inquires about HSBC freezing account says exile Ted Hui

Former Hong Kong lawmakerTed Hui said U.S. authorities have contacted him about HSBC’s decision to freeze his bank account, which he has said was done without good reason.

Hui, now living in exile in the U.K., told Apple Daily that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office had been in touch, wanting to know about the HSBC suspension. The officials gave no details about their plans, he said.

Hui announced his exile status on Dec. 3, after he and his family left Hong Kong. Shortly after his departure, his bank account was frozen as Hong Kong police accused him of misappropriating HK$850,000 (US$100,000) from a crowdfunding campaign.

Hui said the allegations were fabricated by police, and that neither he nor his family members ever touched the money — which remains in a bank account held by their lawyers, he said.

“From the first day of the crowdfunding campaign, the money has never left the account of the law firm. The only withdrawals were to pay for lawyer fees,” Hui said, adding that any spending would need to go through lawyers and auditors.

Hui previously disclosed the audit report of the crowdfunding campaign on social media, which showed a balance of around HK$2.2 million after deducting legal costs. The money was raised to fund lawsuits against the government; if the lawsuits were dropped, the money would be donated to other funds as set out in the terms of the crowdfunding campaign, he said.

Hui urged the international community to sanction financial institutions that are complicit in Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong. “I am publicly calling for sanctions against HSBC,” he said.

Asked about his plans for the future, Hui said he wanted to lobby for Hong Kong’s interests internationally, and that he might relocate to another Five Eyes country after coordinating with other prominent activists like Nathan Law.

“I haven’t made my final decision on whether to stay in the U.K. If [Nathan Law] is in Europe, then I might not stay there, so that we can broaden the scope of our advocacy,” he said.

Hui, 38, said he was fully prepared to take low-paying jobs to sustain himself.

Recalling the moment that he announced his exile status on Facebook, Hui said he was in tears. “Everyone was telling me not to go back to Hong Kong, which was very upsetting: I belong to Hong Kong.” he said. “The people there are suffering.”

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