18 August 2019
Drug use was widespread among bankers in Hong Kong, writes a British banker who used to frequent bars in Wan Chai. Photo: AFP
Drug use was widespread among bankers in Hong Kong, writes a British banker who used to frequent bars in Wan Chai. Photo: AFP

British banker: Leaving Hong Kong saved my life

In the wake of the arrest of a British banker for allegedly murdering two prostitutes in his Wan Chai flat, where police found cocaine, a fellow British banker has written a heartfelt account of his own enslavement to the drug in Hong Kong.

“Leaving Hong Kong saved my life,” wrote the unnamed author of the article on, who spent several years working in the city and is now receiving professional help for his addictions.

“The first time I walked down the main drag in Wan Chai in Hong Kong, I couldn’t believe what I saw; all the mama bars there and prostitutes openly in the street outside trying to get guys to go in.

“Within the first week I’d already been offered cocaine.”

He said 30 percent of the men he knew between the ages of 20 and 50 in Hong Kong, most of whom worked in banking, were regular cocaine users. They were all Westerners.

By contrast, the ratio of drug users was “minimal” for bankers he knew in London, Chicago and Sydney, although, he said, they faced the same pressures as those in Hong Kong. 

He put the difference down to the easy availability of the drug in Hong Kong and the general acceptance of its use.

“I knew some guys who were seriously screwed up, and now I realize just how much I had changed in Hong Kong, almost inhuman at times,” the banker wrote.

He said he could give his drug dealer a phone call or a text message after 4 p.m., and within an hour one of his drivers was in a car outside the office with a delivery.

“Of the hundred nights that I wanted to get cocaine, I think I can only remember one night when I couldn’t get any,” the banker wrote.

A gram would cost between HK$700 (US$90) and HK$1,000. 

At the beginning, he was using the drug once a month, but after a few years it was four times a week. He would take one gram for a night out. Often, he would end up on a three- or four-day bender.

“If you were just out drinking until 3 a.m., you could go to work and function,” the banker wrote. “But if I had a three-day bender, then I had to make up excuses for being off sick, or whatever, or somebody would cover for you.”

He said people knew that if they were out in Wan Chai they weren’t going to get into trouble with the law. Patrons of the bars there would openly chop up their cocaine in the toilets.

“Hong Kong can break you as a person. That scene in Wan Chai with these girly bars everywhere, getting cocaine whenever you need it, being able to stay up and drink all night, you end up believing that that’s the norm,” he wrote.

“When you go to other cities, it’s like ‘why haven’t they got somewhere that stays open all night? It’s a pain in the a*** to try to get cocaine from somebody.’

“I wouldn’t have got out of it in Hong Kong. I would have been destroyed.”

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