Founded by Cantonese brothers Lam Tee Chew (林子昭) and Lam Song Khee (林崧祺), Kwong Lee Bank was one of the earliest Chinese-funded banks in Sarawak. It started out as the Kwong Lee Mortgage and Remittance Company (广利钱庄), a private bank (qianzhuang) established by Lam Tee Chew in 1905 at No. 30 Main Bazaar to provide services such as remittances, deposits and mortgage loans. Riding the economic boom, the Lam brothers invested their new wealth into diverse ventures including pawn shops, gold and coal mines and sago processing. The Lam family quickly rose to prominence and was soon seen as the bellwether among Cantonese businesses.
The company was incorporated as Kwong Lee Bank in 1934. It was acquired in 1982 by Malayan United Industries Berhad and renamed MUI Bank; a futher acquisition by Hong Leong Group in 1994 led to it becoming Hong Leong Bank.