The continuous protests in Hong Kong have taken another turn as of late, as the police have frozen $9 million from a foundation working with the protesters. The money was allegedly being used for money laundering, but the opposition is declining the accusations, and legal authorities are questioning if there is political involvement.
Hong Kong Police Freezes $9 M
A local report shows that Hong Kong authorities have frozen HK$70 million ($9 M) raised by the Spark Alliance. The money was crowdfunded for the protests, however the police claim that the foundation is actually using it for personal gains, rewards, luring teenagers into protesting, and possibly money laundering.
They have also arrested four people linked to the foundation in a raid, aged from 17 to 50. The police reportedly seized HK$130,000 in cash and a receipt for KH$165,000 spent on supermarket coupons, laser pointers, six arrows, and many helmets, and gas masks that can be used for protection gear during protests.
According to the report, people from Spark Alliance have confirmed the four arrests in the following hours, but also denied the accusations:
“We condemn the police attempt to use false representation to smear our platform as being involved in evil purposes like money laundering.”
Several lawyers also weighed in on the matter, questioning the police’s real motives, including a veteran opposition lawmaker, James To Kun-sun. He said that the government would need to provide more credible evidence, otherwise risk the public to start suspecting that “it is trying to give a hard time to the crowdfunding platform that supports protesters.”
Bank Account Closures and Bitcoin
Hong Kong is no stranger to similar actions enforced on protesters. Just recently, one of the largest banks in the world, HSBC, banned a corporate account allegedly related to the protests in the country, claiming that it didn’t match the original purpose of creation.
However, bank account closures can occur everywhere around the world, as proven by Bank of America. PayPal’s former CFO received a 30-day notice that his account will be stopped, but it didn’t provide any reason why this happened to him.
In both cases, there was a strong backlash from the cryptocurrency community, saying that this can’t happen with Bitcoin.
The world’s largest crypto doesn’t have a central point of authority due to its distributed and decentralized nature. Thus, the authorities can’t close it nor exclude a single person or an entity from receiving or sending assets. To start utilizing Bitcoin’s network, one needs to have only access to the Internet, and it can be done from any location across the world, no matter the business intention.
Moreover, during some of the most heated weeks of protesting in Hong Kong, when the citizens showed mistrust in the payment system, Bitcoin trading volume surged. It would be interesting to see if this latest involvement from the authorities will impact the volume, as well.
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