Man arrested as HSBC cheque deposit machine is smashed in Hong Kong branch

Phila Siu

A 33-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly smashing a cheque deposit machine at an HSBC branch in Hong Kong, according to police.

Two men were spotted smashing the machine’s screen with hammers at the Sheung Shui Centre branch at around 1pm on Monday.

One of them fled in a taxi and was followed by police officers who arrested him at Tin Ping Estate in Sheung Shui, near the border with mainland China.

The other suspect remained at large. The identities of the pair and their motives remained unclear.

HSBC has been embroiled in controversy after police earlier this month froze more than HK$70 million raised by activists to support anti-government protesters.

An HSBC branch in Mong Kok was vandalised on Christmas Eve. Photo: May Tse

The money was raised via the Spark Alliance crowdfunding platform to help those arrested or jailed over the social unrest that has rocked the city since June. Officers suspect the funds were used for personal gain and other illegal activities, including participation rewards for young demonstrators.

HSBC closed Spark Alliance’s bank account in November.

On Christmas Eve, the banking giant’s Mong Kok branch was vandalised as black-clad protesters smashed its glass walls and started a fire at the entrance.

Demonstrators spray-painted “revenge for Spark Alliance” on the wall.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s office said more than 5,000 traffic lamps and 100 controllers had been replaced over the past few months due to protest-related vandalism at a cost of more than HK$30 million.

Anti-government protesters dismantle metal railings to build barricades. Photo: May Tse

The statement was issued after Lam visited the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and the Transport Department to learn about the steps being taken to ensure public safety after protesters had trashed traffic lights and other facilities across the city.

Police said that protesters had vandalised 1,248 shops, dismantled 52km (32 miles) of railings – which are used for makeshift barricades on roads – and dug up paving bricks covering an area of 19,995 square metres (215,224 square feet).

Protesters have been demanding that the government meet all five of their core demands, including the establishment of an independent judge-led inquiry into police actions during the unrest.

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