newly established party advocating for self-determination in Hong Kong has said that Hang Seng Bank has placed limits on an account belonging to its deputy secretary.

Agnes Chow Ting said on Facebook on Monday evening that Demosistō has, thus far, been unable to successfully register as a limited company or open a bank account. It therefore announced it would accept public donations through Chow’s personal account. However, her bank prevented Chow from making any withdrawals as such accounts cannot be used for non-personal purposes.

agnes chow
Agnes Chow Ting. Photo: Agnes Chow Ting via Facebook.

Chow announced that Demosistō donations could now only be received via Paypal, and stressed that all financial records would still be looked over by lawyers and accountants.

hang seng bank
Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

“We’re unsure whether we’ll be able to arrange a new account to accept donations from the public,” Chow said, “because it was already very difficult to open an account to begin with, and I believe that it’ll be even more difficult after this incident goes public. However, we feel that we have a duty to inform everyone what went down and we’re looking to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

Chairwoman of the pro-Beijing DAB party Starry Lee said on Tuesday on a DBC radio programme that it was “very normal” for political figures to be unable to open a bank and that the situation was not unique to Hong Kong. She also said that these demands were likely international requirements and that banks were concerned that these people would be laundering money, Ming Pao reported.

starry lee
Starry Lee. File Photo: Stand News.

Ronny Tong Ka-wah, former lawmaker and founder of political think-tank Path of Democracy, also said that the bank has different legal responsibilities to fulfil and that since the party publicly announced their intentions to use the personal account for such purposes, the bank could not turn a blind eye. Tong also said that he himself, as well as his family members, had been unable to open accounts in the past decade or so that he has been in politics.

Last month, the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party said that the Companies Registry had refused to register the party, citing political reasons for their decision.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.