HSBC blocked our ac­count

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

We are a small pri­vate com­pany trad­ing in South America.

HSBC, in or­der to com­ply with the money laun­der­ing and drugs leg­is­la­tion, re­quired in­for­ma­tion on the com­pany di­rec­tors and share­hold­ers.

Months ago, the bank con­tacted us for this, say­ing it had lost all the de­tails we sup­plied some three years pre­vi­ously. We have held an ac­count with HSBC for some 20 years.

I an­swered a long ques­tion­naire fol­low­ing the threat­en­ing let­ter that, if I did not phone the bank the ac­count would be blocked or ter­mi­nated.

We had to make a tele­phone book­ing, so a date and time were set but HSBC did not call. RE, SCOT­LAND

You re­call that this fail­ure to call as ar­ranged was re­peated twice. When the bank did get back to you, the an­swers about this ac­count were com­pleted.

Af­ter that, all went quiet for three more months un­til you had an­other threat­en­ing let­ter say­ing, if you did not an­swer the ques­tions again, ac­tion would be taken on the ac­count.

At one stage you had asked if the ques­tions could be sent by email and were told they couldn’t be. Now, though, it sug­gested it sent an email.

The bank re­quired no­tarised pass­ports of the di­rec­tors and share­hold­ers and proof of res­i­dence. They live in Peru, Venezuela and Mi­ami. Re­ceipt of this in­for­ma­tion was con­firmed. Even so, on the day you wrote to me, the ac­count was blocked.

You could not pay out for­eign cur­rency, some­thing which you needed to do for the busi­ness.

You were now told that the bank’s in­quiries were on­go­ing and it was com­pelled to do this. Your ques­tions were unan­swered.

Eleven days af­ter I ap­proached HSBC, your ac­count was un­blocked and you had ac­cess to your funds again.

HSBC said: “As part of our ef­forts to stop fi­nan­cial crime, we are con­duct­ing de­tailed re­views of the in­for­ma­tion we hold about our cus­tomers.

“We apol­o­gise for the in­con­ve­nience this can cause, but if we don’t re­ceive all the in­for­ma­tion we need from a busi­ness cus­tomer, we may be forced to re­strict their abil­ity to make for­eign cur­rency pay­ments un­til we are able to com­plete their re­view.”

This state­ment leaves some dis­tance be­tween what you and the bank are say­ing.

The im­pres­sion I have though is that both the busi­ness side and in­deed the re­tail arm of HSBC need to brush up their acts re­gard­ing these iden­ti­fi­ca­tion de­mands.

Cer­tainly, if there are deemed to be any omis­sions the bank should not wait for three months to come back say­ing it hadn’t got all it wanted.

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