Hong Kong police orders accounts of exiled lawmaker to be frozen

Hong Kong, Dec 7 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong police on Monday ordered several banks, including British giant HSBC, to freeze the accounts of former lawmaker-in-exile Ted Hui, who authorities in the Special Administrative Region suspect of money laundering.

“We have the accounts frozen absolutely not because this person has fled… He is highly suspected of embezzling HK $850,000 ($109,600) in funds via his own and other people’s accounts,” Hong Kong Police Senior Superintendent Steve Li told reporters.

Li, who did not mention Hui by name during the briefing, added: “since this man left Hong Kong, what he has said and done (…) is enough to constitute collusion with foreign forces” under the national security law enacted last year amid protests from pro-democracy advocates and large segments of the international community.

The police announcement came one day after Hui had said on Facebook that he and his family were able to access their funds, which he claimed had been blocked on Saturday. He said the accounts contained his life savings, totaling several million Hong Kong dollars.

On Sunday, Hui claimed he could once again access funds in the frozen accounts, and that his family had immediately moved their savings to “safe places”, as they had lost trust in HSBC.

The incident has raised concerns over the financial security of individuals under the banking system of the Asian financial hub. Hui said the matter was “extremely serious” and would undermine the confidence of HSBC’s customers at home and abroad.

Hui, a prominent pro-democracy figure who is facing nine charges – including some related to the protest movement that paralyzed much of the former British colony last year – went into exile in the United Kingdom with his family last week.

He had previously raised funds via online crowdfunding for private prosecutions against alleged police brutality in the movement.

The announcement that Hui’s assets had been frozen coincided with police arresting eight people on Monday morning in relation to a graduation day protest at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on November 19.

Three of the detainees are suspected of having “incited secession”, a violation of the national security law.

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