Hong Kong's departing residents withdrew $248.9mln in pension funds in Q1

A total of 7,700 claims were made during the first quarter

  
A man wearing a protective face mask takes a photo of the sunset at Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront as skyline buildings stand across Victoria Harbor following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China July 28, 2020.

A man wearing a protective face mask takes a photo of the sunset at Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront as skyline buildings stand across Victoria Harbor following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China July 28, 2020.

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG - Hong Kong residents leaving the city for good withdrew a total of HK$1.931 billion ($248.92 million) from their Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) pension accounts in the first quarter of 2021, up 49.1% from the same period a year earlier.

A total of 7,700 claims were made during the first quarter. That compared with 7,600 claims during the same period in 2020, when HK$1.295 billion was withdrawn, data from the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority released late on Monday showed.

That compared with 8,500 claims during the fourth quarter of 2020, when HK$1.941 billion was withdrawn -- up 35.3% from the same quarter in 2019.

For the whole of 2020, there were a total of 30,200 claims made, totalling HK$5.93 billion. That compared with 30,400 claims made in 2019 of HK$4.845 billion.

The authority said the number of claimants may not match the number of claims because a member may have more than one account under the MPF system. The authority did not provide reasons why residents left Hong Kong.

The government has said the city has not seen significant capital outflows since anti-government unrest started in 2019.

China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong in late June 2020, aimed at anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession or terrorism.

As China imposed the sweeping law, residents of the city moved tens of billions of dollars across the globe to Canada, where thousands were hoping to forge a new future. 

Capital flows out of Hong Kong banks to Canada rose to their highest on record last year, with about C$43.6 billion ($34.8 billion) in electronic fund transfers recorded by FINTRAC, Canada's anti-money laundering agency, which receives reports on transfers above C$10,000. 

($1 = 7.7575 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Jacqueline Wong) ((donny.kwok@thomsonreuters.com; +852 2843 6470; Reuters Messaging: donny.kwok.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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