Officials to hand cash to customers after China bank protest

Authorities in China’s Henan province have announced they will start releasing money for customers whose funds have been frozen by several rural banks, the BBC reported.

The announcement came just a day after a rare protest in Henan’s capital, Zhengzhou, turned violent.

Payments will be made in batches starting this Friday, according to local regulators.

The four banks that were at the center of the protests reportedly froze a total of 39 billion yuan ($5.8 billion) in deposits.

The Henan Banking and Insurance Regulatory Bureau and the local Financial Supervisory Bureau of Henan Province said “advance payments” would be made to customers through a local association supervised by the central bank of Henan. China.

Regulators have asked customers to contact the association from Friday.

On Sunday, a protest against the frozen deposits, attended by hundreds of people in Zhengzhou, turned violent after a clash with a group of unidentified men, the BBC reported.

Protesters said banks froze their deposits over supposed upgrades to their internal systems in April, but have not communicated with them since then.

Local media reported that police were present at the protest and told protesters to leave.

Videos on social media showed a group of unidentified men – believed to be security personnel but dressed in civilian clothes – shoving protesters and throwing water bottles at them, the BBC reported.

A protester, who had traveled to Henan for the demonstration, told the BBC that the protesters had been attacked.

“A group of people without police uniforms (on) rushed towards us. They hit us hard, especially (the) men,” said the protester, who wanted to be identified only as Ms Wang.

On Sunday, local police said they had arrested “a number of suspects” linked to the case and were making progress in their investigation into the banks, without mentioning the protests.

Police said the suspects allegedly controlled a number of banks in the province through a parent company.