NT Butterfield are absolutely wrong on this. The law DOES NOT require them to close accounts at all. They are of course required to review any account where there is a fresh report of potential breaches of AML but that does NOT require the closing of accounts. This is particularly so where there is a history of dealing with a bank stretching back over many years that they can rely upon.
If there is a reasonable suspicion that there is the potential for AML issues they have a range of alternatives: closing the account should be the last resort, not the first knee-jerk reaction. They could temporarily freeze the account and seek further clarification from the client and other sources; approach the client and say we will need chapter and verse for any significant sum being paid into the account until the issues have been resolved; limit transactions to a fixed sum etc. or suspend the accounts etc.
If a bank closes an account, (usually without providing reasons, as here) what other financial institution will have that customer? Todays financial world necessitates banking facilities for every citizen. How does a person get paid (not in cash), many retail and business outlets do not take cash at all. Booking a flight on-line or paying for goods, even ordering a delivery meal, all require banking facilities. Banks should not be permitted to operate unilaterally in this regard – we probably need an ombudsman to deal with these issues.
The unilateral closing of the account of Nigel Farage in the UK is a case in point, although on a different issue. We do not know who took the decision to close my personal accounts and neither have we been provided with a reason but it does seem somewhat duplicitous that they have closed my personal accounts yet not my business accounts.
In the light of the decision by the DPP to not even have a trial on the untrue allegations made against me are the bank now going to review their decision and offer to reinstate my account. I’ll bet 100 to 1 they don’t.
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