Former Hong Kong legislator Ted Hui stepped up his criticism of HSBC Holdings as CEO Noel Quinn reached out to him personally to explain why the lender froze his accounts after he fled the city for self-exile in the UK.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, which included a photo of part of the letter he received from Quinn, Hui said that HSBC has “failed to provide the legal basis” for freezing his accounts and those of his family members and didn’t explain why his family was also “collectively punished”.

Hui, a pro-democracy advocate, said that Quinn wrote in the personal e-mail that the bank had no choice in blocking his accounts after a demand from the police. An HSBC spokesperson declined to comment on specific accounts.

Members of the UK parliament should question the bank’s actions and there should be “corresponding international sanctions to be imposed upon HSBC”, Hui said.

The bank’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell as much as 3.1% on Monday. HSBC’s move to freeze Hui’s account as well as that of a church last year prompted anger and accusations that the closures were acts of political retaliation.

The London-based bank has been walking a tightrope as it struggles to avoid getting caught in the complicated geopolitics of the former British colony, where pro-democracy politicians have been disqualified, charged and arrested and fled into exile amid a China-backed crackdown.

The Hong Kong police previously said that the move to block Hui’s accounts was based on a probe into his crowdfunding efforts. Hui was among those arrested in connection with a disruptive protest in the legislative chamber in May. He was out on bail when he fled to the UK last year.


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