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HSBC closes Hong Kong branches amid unrest

HSBC Holdings PLC was forced to shutter some branches and suspend several ATMs in Hong Kong on Jan. 2 amid continuing anti-government protests.

Demonstrators targeted HSBC's premises, including the pair of iconic bronze lions outside its city-center headquarters, prompting it to close two branches and seven indoor ATM clusters, Reuters reported.

HSBC, the dominant lender in Hong Kong, has been caught in the crosshairs of the protests following its decision in November 2019 to close an account held by a group called Spark Alliance, which raised money to provide legal and medical aid to protesters.

The bank defended the account closure, saying it was for compliance reasons and was "completely unrelated" to the arrest of four individuals in December 2019 over alleged money laundering.