U.S. warns banks as it names five more Chinese officials under Hong Kong act

Signage is seen at the United States Department of the Treasury headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday named five already-sanctioned Chinese officials it said had contributed to undermining Hong Kong's democracy and warned that foreign financial institutions that conduct business with them would be subject to sanctions.

A six-monthly State Department report to Congress named the five as Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Tan Tienui and Yin Zonghua, all deputy directors at China's Hong Kong liaison office.

Naming the five bought to 39 the number of officials so designated under the terms of the U.S. Hong Kong Autonomy Act since October last year. read more

"Foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant transactions with the individuals listed in today’s report are subject to sanctions," the State Department said, as it released an updated report to Congress required under the act.

It said the report underscored "deep concerns about Beijing’s clear efforts to deprive Hong Kongers of a meaningful voice" in Dec. 19 Legislative Council elections. read more

The United States has thus far not sanctioned any foreign financial institution for doing business with those named in accordance with the Hong Kong act, which became law last year.

Financial institutions found in violation of the act could be subject to so-called secondary sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. loans, foreign exchange, property transactions, exports and transfers, in addition to measures against executives.

Under the terms of the act, the U.S. Treasury is required to identify any such institution between 30 and 60 days of the submission of the report to Congress.

The five individuals named on Monday were among seven Chinese official sanctioned in July over China's crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong. read more

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

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