Hong Kong Payment Firms In Firing Line

September 7, 2021
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Hong Kong's National Security Department is issuing messages to various firms to hand over information about anyone they encounter upon request. Financial firms, including payments firms, are expected to bear the brunt of the enquiries.

Hong Kong's National Security Department is issuing messages to various firms to hand over information about anyone they encounter upon request. Financial firms, including payments firms, are expected to bear the brunt of the enquiries.

The department, which is part of the police, is issuing its demands under Schedule 5 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the Hong Kong National Security Law.

This law came into force on Wednesday July 1, 2020 at the behest of Mainland China. The details of its 66 articles were a secret — even from Carrie Lam, the province's Chief Executive — until the Chinese government passed it unilaterally.

It criminalises anyone who expresses a desire for Hong Kong to break away from China, anyone who undermines the power of the mainland government, anyone who intimidates people and anyone who colludes with non-mainland forces.

Failure to provide information in time invites a fine of $100,000 and six months' imprisonment. Anyone who provides false information is liable to a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for two years.

In October, the London Financial Times reported that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) had advised banks (both local and international lenders) to report any transactions that they suspected of breaking the National Security Law to the police. The HKMA said that a bank ought to send off a notification as soon as it “knows or suspects that any property is offence-related property".

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