HSBC will suspend overnight ATM services at 19 clusters in Hong Kong as a means of avoiding damages following reported vandalism against the lender perceived to be complicit in anti-protestor activities.
The 19 clusters were pinpointed due to their closeness to popular locations for pro-democracy activities. These locations will be closed from 8 pm to 6 am on Fridays, weekends, the days before and on public holidays until further notice, according to an HSBC statement.
This follows multiple acts of vandalism against the bank on New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve, reportedly by black-clad anti-government proponents. Most notably was damage done to the famous pair of lions that guard HSBC’s headquarters, after they were doused in flammable liquid and set alight. The bank subsequently closed two branches and seven ATM clusters.
Whilst attacks against banks have been largely limited to Chinese state-owned lenders, the latest acts of vandalism against HSBC are widely believed to be due to perceived links between the London-headquartered financial giant and pro-Beijing efforts to stifle dissent. Such accusations were made following local police's decision to freeze around HK$70 million ($9 million) of funds used to support the anti-government movement in Hong Kong. The account owner, Spark Alliance HK, is a renowned anti-government group set up in 2016 to support protestors.
HSBC has repeatedly denied political involvement and recently said it was «saddened and disappointed by the acts of vandalism» at its Mong Kok branch, which included graffiti that read «revenge for Spark Alliance».
Just Following Rules
According to HSBC, its decision to comply with police instructions was not politically motivated but falls in line with global regulatory standards.
«We understand there is concern about the account closure. We closed the account in November following fund transfer instructions from the customer as the account was not being used for its stated purpose,» the bank said in a statement, according to an «SCMP» report.
«In December, we received notification from the enforcement agency regarding [the] handling of its account balance. As an international bank, the decision to close the account was in accordance with global regulatory standards. Global regulators require banks to perform due diligence reviews on customer accounts regularly.»
Source : https://www.finews.asia/…/30620-hsbc-cuts-atm-services-afte…