Can the bank freeze/terminate my bank account even though I've explained my transactions?

2021-03-20 i EKONOMI
FRÅGA
Hi. I have a couple of questions regarding the law 2017:630. I work as IT engineer for different countries (Sweden, UK and Spain), I'm owner also of a company in UK from a lot of years ago. That means I have transactions between those countries. I also have an account to buy Bitcoin as savings. My bank asked me for some transactions based on the law 2017:630. I answered every transaction (even I had to explain transactions to Skatteverket to pay taxes), with tyckets, invoices, the taxes documents for the company in England. 1 month later, the Bank sent me a letter to close the service as they can not be sure the purpouse of how I use the bank. Apart to be extremly offensive, as I'm doing nothing wrong I have 3 questions.1.- Can they do that without demostrating nothing or without ask me for more clarifications?2.- Finally I will have to find another bank. Can they say to other banks the reason they finished the service and I have problems with the other banks?3.- Why, if they think this, they don't accusse me to the police?Thanks a lot.
SVAR

Hello and thank you for asking your question to Lawline!

As I understand it you've bank accounts in different countries, because you're an IT-engineer and an owner of a business. You also have an account for Bitcoin. You've spoken to your bank and showed them different kinds of documents as a support to how you're using the bank, but the bank is still not satisfied.

Why does the bank need to know about your bank involvement?

The law you are referring to is called penningtvättslagen, which places high demands on the bank to obtain information from its customers. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent money laundering and financing terrorism.

According to penningtvättlagen banks are required to obtain information on how the products and services that the bank provides can be used for money laundering or financing of terrorist and how extensive the risk is for the aforementioned, according to (2 kap. 1 § 1 st penningtvättslagen). Geographical risk factors must also be taken into account (2 kap. 1 § 2 st penningtvättslagen).

Therefore international transactions, income from abroad and income that stays abroad are of particular interest to the bank. The bank has an obligation to have good knowledge of how their customers use the bank's services and products to prevent criminal activity. The information collected by the customer is treated confidentially and is of course covered by bank secrecy.

From the above, it can be stated that the banks today have high demands in the work against money laundering and terrorism. You are obliged to answer the questions that the bank sends out. If you do not do so, the bank has the right to, for example, freeze your accounts and, in the long run, terminate your services at the bank.

Can they freeze/terminate accounts without demonstrating nothing or without asking for more clarifications?

In case of suspicion of money laundering, the banks have the right to freeze your account and services. Then they will send you a letter with a reason for the freezing and if you can explain and prove that for example the transactions are work related, the bank will unfreeze your accounts and services again. Usually the banks also report to the police about the suspicion. In that way, other banks might find out about the suspicion and not let you be a customer in their bank. It sounds like your current bank hasn't reported to the police yet. A question could be why they would be suspicious, but yet not report to the police.

I want to emphasize that all banks ask their customers and people that want to be their customers questions that are related to money laundering. Therefore it's not easy to open a new account at a new bank, especially not when international transactions are involved. Of course there shouldn't be any problems if you can support your transactions with documents or other evidence.

Recommendation

My recommendation to you is to book a meeting with the office manager at your current bank and ask why they feel unsure about your motives as a customer in their bank. If they want more documents- what more documents do they need? Maybe they also want to see an employment contract, so bring them as well if possible. Bring with you the evidence about your existing business in the UK and that you have accounts in the UK and Spain ( tickets, invoices, the taxes documents for the company in England as you mentioned). If the bank is uncooperative the alternative is to change your bank. Although it really shouldn't be necessary if you have these mentioned documents to support that you're not doing anything illegal with the money.

You've ordered the service with telephone follow-up and I'll thus call you on Monday (22/03 - 2021) at 15:00 from an unidentified number. If that time doesn't work for you, you're welcome to contact me at natasha.fathifard@lawline.se and we'll decide on a new time.

I wish you a good day!

Kind regards,

Natasha Fathifard
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