Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she had ‘piles of money’ at home because she didn’t have a bank account after the US imposed sanctions on her in response to a law draconian on the security imposed by China on the city.
Lam has been targeted, along with 14 other top city officials, in the toughest US action against Hong Kong since Beijing imposed the new law on the territory in late June.
Washington’s decision freezes the US assets of the 15 officials and criminalizes any financial transactions in the United States.
In an interview with local English TV channel HKIBC aired on Friday night, Lam said she “used money every day for all things” after being disciplined.
“Sitting in front of you is a chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR (special administrative region) who has no banking service available to him,” Lam told HKIBC.
“I have loads of money at home, the government pays me in cash for my salary,” she added.
Lam added that it was “very honourable” to be “unduly sanctioned” by the US government and does not want to deter anyone from holding public office.
Earning 5.21 million Hong Kong dollars ($672,000) a year, Lam is one of the highest paid executives in the world.
His remarks sparked a public backlash, with social media users posting photos of coins in their piggy banks at home to contrast with Lam’s wealth.
Others wondered how his large salary would be transported to his residence in cash.
Lam told the media in August that she was “a little embarrassed” by the penalties that prevented her from using credit cards.