Protest fund probe to be first job for new cop

Top News | Michael Shum 6 May 2021

After the creation of a new police post to crack down on money laundering was green lighted, lawmakers yesterday called for a full investigation into operations of the "612 humanitarian fund."

The establishment subcommittee yesterday approved the creation of a five-year position to head the financial intelligence and investigation bureau to strengthen money laundering and terrorist financing investigations.

Lawmakers want police to look into the fund's operations, saying its backing of unrest defendants in court cases "suspicious."

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong's Elizabeth Quat said: "It does not have its own bank account and is using that of the Alliance for True Democracy to operate."

She added: "It is also using the address of Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, therefore I think it calls for an in-depth investigation."

The Federation of Trade Unions' Wong Kwok-kin backs creating the new position.

"The unrest was enormous in scale and involved a lot of resources," Wong said.

"If one thinks it does not involve the support of funds from unknown sources, that would be an insult to my intelligence."

Assistant commissioner Yip Wan-lung said crowd-funding is not illegal, but it depends on how the money is being used.

"If the money was not used for its original purpose, or becomes a personal benefit, the police will probe into it for a potential fraud," he said.

Set up at the height of the anti-fugitive bill movement in 2019, the fund received around HK$210 million in donations and provided some HK$190 million to assist over 21,000 injured or arrested.

According to its latest financial report, it currently has a balance of HK$1.4 million.

That came as the Democratic Party said former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting is dropping his civil case against police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung over the July 21, 2019, attacks at Yuen Long MTR station.

A representative of Lam, currently detained under the national security law, said he is worried the case will use up a lot of money from the fund and thus decided to drop it.

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