Former Hong Kong Lawmaker Ted Hui Says His Bank Accounts Frozen

Former Hong Kong Lawmaker Ted Hui Says His Bank Accounts Frozen
Former pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung appears outside West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in Hong Kong, China Nov. 19, 2020. (Lam Yik/Reuters)

HONG KONG—Former Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui said on Sunday his local bank accounts appeared to have been frozen after he fled to Britain with his family to continue his pro-democracy activities.

Hui told Reuters via social media WhatsApp that bank accounts belonging to him, his wife, and his parents at Bank of China Hong Kong, HSBC, and Hang Seng Bank were frozen. He gave no further details.

Democracy activists say conditions have worsened in the former British colony after China imposed security legislation on the financial hub in June, making anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession, terrorism, or colluding with foreign forces punishable by up to life in prison.

China, which promises Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, denies curbing rights and freedoms, but authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have moved swiftly to quash dissent after anti-government protests erupted last year and engulfed the city.

Local media reported that at least five accounts worth hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars belonging to Hui and his family had been inaccessible since Saturday.

Hui contacted the banks and was told there were "remarks" placed on his accounts, but the staff refused to provide further information, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported.

"We do not comment on the details of individual accounts," a Hang Seng Bank spokesman told Reuters by email. HSBC and Bank of China did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hong Kong police said late on Sunday that they were investigating a Hong Kong person, who had absconded overseas with bank accounts being frozen, for suspected money laundering and possible violation of the new national security law.

It was not immediately clear who the police were referring to.

Hui said on Thursday he had fled Hong Kong after facing criminal charges and would seek exile in Britain.

One of the pro-democracy activists arrested last month and charged with disturbing legislature proceedings, Hui arrived in Copenhagen last week on an invitation from Danish lawmakers.

Hong Kong's Security Bureau issued a statement on Friday that, while not naming Hui, said "running away by jumping bail and using various excuses such as so-called 'exile' to avoid one's responsibility is a shameful, hypocritical and cowardly act of recoil."

Hui was one of several opposition lawmakers who quit Hong Kong's Legislative Council last month in protest at the dismissal of four colleagues in what they called another push by Beijing to suppress democracy in the city.

By Yanni Chow and Donny Kwok