FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

HSBC slammed anew over treatment of democracy-linked clients

Next Media execs were reportedly unable to access their HSBC accounts.

HSBC has faced renewed criticism from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over its supposed treatment of customers with ties to Hong Kong pro-democracy groups, reports Reuters.

Pompeo cited reports of Hong Kong-based executives at Next Media being unable to access their HSBC bank accounts and said the bank was “maintaining accounts for individuals who have been sanctioned for denying freedom for Hong Kongers, while shutting accounts for those seeking freedom.”

Next Media is the former name of Next Digital, publisher of the Apple Daily newspaper and part-owned by activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who had been arrested under Hong Kong’s new security law. Whilst its business account remains open, HSBC has frozen Lai’s personal and private business accounts, as well as senior exec Mark Simon’s personal and credit card accounts.

The lender has been battling mounting pressure as it tries to balance its need to retain access to China whilst appeasing US and British lawmakers who are critical of Beijing’s response to the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Here's more from Reuters.

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