Banks step up checks over US sanctions

Business | Bloomberg and Kevin Xu 11 Aug 2020

Banks operating in Hong Kong are stepping up scrutiny of their customers and at least one US bank is moving to suspend accounts to avoid running afoul of the US sanctions slapped on city officials, putting them at risk of violating the controversial security law imposed by Beijing.

Asking not to be named, people familiar with the decision said yesterday that one US bank is taking steps to suspend accounts linked to the 11 sanctioned officials. Two major Chinese banks are assessing what needs to be done based on their risk tolerance and compliance requirements, people familiar to those discussions said, suggesting they wouldn't entirely brush off the sanctions.

Additional levels of screening will be done now to cope with potential further sanctions on politically exposed people, the people said.

The US on Friday sanctioned 11 officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah and other Chinese top enforcers, over their role in imposing the security law.

Meanwhile, shares of building services provider Analogue (1977), controlled by Cheng's husband Otto Poon Lok-to, fell 2.04 percent to HK$0.96 yesterday. Cheng's brother Peter Cheng Wai-keung is the chief financial officer of Analogue.

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