Hong Kong's Companies Registry turned down a bid by Occupy Central to register as a company, something one person familiar with the matter compared to an application by a "triad society".
Dr Chan Kin-man, an organiser of the plan to block traffic in Central to fight for genuine universal suffrage, suggested the decision sought to hamper Occupy's ability to raise funds. He said they had been using an ally group's bank account to collect donations so far.
Chan said Occupy Central had filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman and would not rule out seeking a judicial review to challenge the Companies Registry's decision.
Chan and several other organisers filed their application with the Companies Registry a year ago, hoping to set up a company named OCLP Limited. The initials refer to the campaign's full name: Occupy Central with Love and Peace.
But a person familiar with the matter said the Companies Registry had decided recently to reject that application, adding the group would be officially informed in the next two days.
"The department notes [organisers] had publicly declared that the movement planned to launch unlawful actions [to back] what they call the goal of achieving genuine universal suffrage," the person said.
"No matter how noble and high-sounding their proclaimed goals are, as an administration that upholds the rule of law, the government can't approve the registration of a company which vows to engage in unlawful acts.
"If we approve their application, should we approve a triad society's application to register as a company?" the source asked. Without the registration, Chan said, Occupy could not set up a bank account and must use that of its ally, the Hong Kong Democratic Development Network.
But "it is bringing trouble for the network and residents might be reluctant to donate" because they are puzzled about why Occupy doesn't have its own account, Chan said. "It was inappropriate [to compare us with a triad society] because a triad society's objective is to engage in criminal acts," Chan added.
"Our goal is to achieve universal suffrage, and we have deliberation and voting before we decide" whether civil disobedience is required. "Many organisations, such as Greenpeace, League of Social Democrats and People Power, could undertake acts of civil disobedience and yet they are registered as companies in Hong Kong."
Meanwhile, Alliance for True Democracy convenor Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said the alliance would commission the University of Hong Kong to conduct another opinion poll next month on the three proposals endorsed by Occupy Central on May 6. Occupy Central has been barraged with criticism since its 2,500 supporters endorsed the proposals that called for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.
That call was dismissed by Beijing and moderate pan-democrats including Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who raised several proposals that do away with public nomination.