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Credit Suisse director free to set up Hong Kong political group

Hong Kong opposition politicians tendered their resignation in protests last month. Keystone / Jerome Favre

Swiss bank Credit Suisse is remaining tight-lipped about one of its board members, Chinese citizen Shan Li, helping to set up a new politically active organisation in Hong Kong.

This content was published on December 8, 2020 - 13:42
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Hong Kong company filings show that Li was one of three people to set up the “Bauhinia Party” earlier this year, the South China Morning Post has reportedExternal link. The move comes amid a period of intense political and social upheaval in Hong Kong.

Last month 15 opposition Hong Kong parliamentarians quit en masse in protest at four colleagues being ejected on grounds of national security. Switzerland was rebuked by China earlier this year for criticising sweeping security laws that were imposed in the wake of the Hong Kong riots in 2019.

Approached by SWI swissinfo.ch, Credit Suisse did not comment on the private activities of its independent board member. The bank would not say whether Li would remain in his post as a member of the risk committee and member of the group’s board of directorsExternal link – a role he has held since 2019.

According to the bank’s own guidelinesExternal link, independent board members should not have been employed at the group within the past three years, have significant business interests at the bank or hold more than 10% of its shares. The guidelines make no reference to political activities or affiliations.

‘Pro-establishment’

Li was an associate of Credit Suisse First Boston in New York for a short spell in 1993. He also had stints working for UBS and a number of other international banks.

The South China Morning Post describes the Bauhinia Party as being “pro-establishment” and cites documents and speeches that indicate it advocates reforming Hong Kong’s parliament into two chambers.

In addition to his role at Credit Suisse, Li is also CEO of the Silk Road Finance Corporation, chairman and CEO of Chinastone Capital Management, founding partner of San Shan Capital Partners and co-Founder of Fang Holdings. The businesses are based either in Hong Kong or mainland China.

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