U.S. says no banks linked to people sanctioned over Hong Kong crackdown

FILE PHOTO: An anti-government protester reacts as police fire tear gas during a march billed as a global "emergency call" for autonomy, in Hong Kong, China, November 2, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury said on Friday it has not identified any foreign financial institution “that has knowingly conducted a significant transaction” since Oct. 14 with individuals deemed responsible for China’s crackdown in Hong Kong.

The Treasury assessment was required under a State Department report in October that put international banks on notice that they would face sanctions if they were found to be doing business with U.S.-blacklisted officials in Hong Kong.

“At this time, Treasury has not identified any FFI that has knowingly conducted a significant transaction with a foreign person identified in the ... report submitted on October 14, 2020 the date of the report’s issuance,” the report said.

The Treasury will continue to monitor for any activity that meets these criteria and will also keep engaging foreign governments and foreign financial institutions over the topic, it added.

The State Department report to Congress in October named 10 people, including Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, all of whom have already been sanctioned, and said within 60 days it would identify financial institutions that conduct significant transactions with them.

The moves are part of U.S. response to China’s actions in Hong Kong, including enactment of a new national security law this year that Washington has called an unacceptable breach of China’s “one country, two systems” commitments toward the former British colony.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on 14 Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.

The action was widely seen as part of an effort by outgoing Republican President Donald Trump to cement his tough-on-China legacy and also box in President-elect Joe Biden. Biden, a Democrat, takes office on Jan. 20 at a time of bipartisan anti-China sentiment in Congress.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis