Hong Kong: address the bank account opening issue
15 September, 2016
Most of Hong Kong company secretaries confirm that it has become very difficult to open bank accounts for firms in Hong Kong. Start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises were particularly affected.
The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries conducted a survey which showed that the problem is not isolated to a few banks.
Despite that The Hong Kong Money Authority issued a circular as a reminder for Hong Kong lenders not to overdo their vetting of applications and to ensure they follow the banking guidelines, banks are using the need for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing controls as an excuse to reject bank account openings.
Ivan Tam, the president of the Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries said: "It is of the utmost importance that Hong Kong does not lose out its competitiveness or the ease of doing business to other jurisdictions and all shareholders must work together to jealously preserve these strongholds of Hong Kong."
Gareth Hewett, the spokesman of HSBC said: "We recognize the business account opening process is more rigorous than it was, but HSBS still opens hundreds of new accounts for local and international businesses in Hong Kong each month. In the case of offshore account opening by third parties, if there is no identifiable economic interest in HK, there can be difficulties."
Good news is that in response to the issues concerning difficulties encountered by HK companies when opening bank accounts, the HKMA has taken a series of follow-up actions and actively communicate with banks.
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