Some rural-based banks, we are told, froze depositors' money back in April, claiming that there was a "system upgrade" in process. Since that time, there has been no further communication from the banks in question.
The Chinese media said up to $1.5 billion in funds are now tied up in the scheme, which authorities are now investigating. (Related: Remember late last year when China-based Evergrande defaulted?)
Some 1,000 people gathered in front of a Zhengzhou branch of the Bank of China, China's central bank – similar to the Federal Reserve – to protest the bank freezes. They were seen holding up banners and chanting slogans on the steps of the building.
These protesters are among the thousands of customers who opened accounts at six rural banks in Henan and neighboring Anhui province that are now refusing to let go of deposited funds.
It turns out that the head of the banks' parent company is on the run and wanted for financial crimes. The only thing left as a remedy, it seems, is for the Bank of China to intervene.
The video below shows depositors in front of the Bank of China growing restless and throwing plastic bottles at approaching security guards. Some of the protesters were arrested and dragged away:
Citizens storm the Bank of China in Zhengzhou over bank account freezes. Banks froze millions of dollars in deposits last April, simply explaining to savers that they need to upgrade their internal systems. Since then, customers have not received any kind of communication. pic.twitter.com/XS9zuXRuEK
— RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) July 10, 2022
Teams of plain-shirted men were also seen, as well as a banking regulator and a local government official, neither of whom were successful in their attempts to speak to the crowd.
"We came today and wanted to get our savings back, because I have elderly people and children at home, and the inability to withdraw savings has seriously affected my life," said one woman from Shandong province whose money is tied up in the scheme.
At one point, a vehicle bearing a megaphone came along and announced that the assembly was illegal and that everyone still there would be detained and fined if they did not leave the premises immediately.
Not long after, the plain-shirted men rushed into the crowd and started dragging and beating people. One woman who was struck asked why they hit her, to which one of them responded, "What's wrong with beating you?"
The same woman, going only by the last name of Zhang to protect her identity, expressed deep grief about having her money stolen from her. She told the media that nobody was told that beatings would occur if the protesters refused to disperse.
"They did not say they would beat us if we refused to leave," Zhang is further quoted as saying. "They just used the loudspeaker to say that we were breaking the law by petitioning. That's ridiculous. It's the banks that are breaking the law."
Soon this type of thing will be seen everywhere. The central banking Ponzi scheme is coming to an end, and there will be many people everywhere who are left holding the bag. This protest at the Bank of China is only the beginning.
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