China denies Mark Mobius’ claims that its government is restricting capital flow

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Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management’s Emerging Markets Group

Dario Pignatelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chinese authorities have denied claims by billionaire investor Mark Mobius, who said he is unable to wire funds out of China due to government restrictions on capital flow.

Asked in an interview with Fox Business last week about whether he’s reduced his exposure to China, Mobius said, “the government is restricting the flow of money out of the country.”

He warned investors of “all kinds of barriers” imposed by the government.

“I’m personally affected because I have an account with HSBC in Shanghai,” he told Fox Business. “I can’t get my money out.”

Officials at the State Administration on Foreign Exchange (SAFE) told CNBC in a statement that it’s a matter of a “basic process and internal control requirements of the bank handling specific business.” They did not name HSBC.

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“We have noticed that relevant market participants have doubts about the bank’s handling of their personal fund remittance businesses,” SAFE said in its statement. “There is no change in the country’s policy on cross-border remittance of funds.”

HSBC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

SAFE said it will continue guiding and urging commercial banks to optimize cross-border financial services and improve their service levels.

Peter Alexander, managing director of Z-Ben, a Shanghai-based investment management consulting firm, said he did not encounter problems in cross-border capital flows out of China.

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“I spent this morning speaking to a dozen clients all of whom confirmed to me that there are no issues in the operations of cross-border capital flows,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Business as usual.”

He said what Mobius is facing may be a process that “any individual looking to conduct overseas transfers” goes through. He added that his business has “never had a single issue” wiring money in and out of China.

“As for Mobius, well the issue raised is with his personal bank account,” Alexander wrote. He pointed out that Mobius is “far from alone in his frustration” as other have experienced the same issues.

— CNBC’s Iris Wang contributed to this report.

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