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China Frozen Bank Account Controversy: Affected Clients Injured During Protests, Nearly $6 Billion Missing

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Some Chinese bank clients, whose accounts were frozen in April, were injured while staging a protest at the Zhengzhou branch offices of the country’s central bank. Reports from local media outlets suggest that as much as $6 billion in client funds is missing and the individual believed to be behind the disappearance is now outside China.

Internal Systems Upgrade

Chinese residents protesting the freezing of their accounts by three banks in Zhengzhou, are reported to have stormed the branch offices of the central bank on Sunday, July 10. Reports say some of the protestors were injured when Chinese law enforcement agents used heavy-handed tactics to disperse the angry mob.

As per various media reports, when the banks initially froze the accounts in April, clients were informed this was done in order to facilitate the process of “upgrading” the institutions’ internal systems. However, more than two months later, the accounts that reportedly held nearly $6 billion (40 billion yuan) are still frozen and the banks have not updated clients about the status of the so-called systems upgrades.

400,000 Clients Affected

In mid-June, one Chinese media outlet said the funds belonging to over 400,000 clients had disappeared. The media outlet added that a so-called “ministerial-level official” had been involved in the case, while one Twitter user named Anderson Copper identified Lu Yi as the “white glove business snake” that stole the funds. According to the Twitter user, Yi has since left the country and is now in the U.S.

The banks’ continued silence as well as authorities’ reported use of China’s Covid-19 health codes to block 1,000 clients’ attempts to withdraw back in June, have lent credence to claims the funds were stolen.

The state-run Global Times has previously said the three banks — Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank, Shangcai Huimin Country Bank, and the Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank — face a probe that relates to their “illegal fundraising” activities.

Meanwhile, in one of the videos shared on Twitter, some angry protestors are seen throwing what appear to be water bottles. Others are seen shoving and making their way towards the entrance of what has been identified as the central bank’s Zhengzhou branch offices.

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