Rabobank was allowed to reject Panamanian woman as customer due to money laundering risk Posting

A Panamanian woman’s application for a payment account for herself and her children was allowed to be rejected by Rabobank because of its relationship with Panama, which has been classified as a high-risk country. The bank is therefore unable to meet the requirements of WWft. This has been decided by the Disputes Committee of the Financial Complaints Institute Kifid in a binding decision.

The woman has Panamanian citizenship and lives partly in Panama and the Netherlands with her partner and children. She has a valid residence permit and a civil service number. The woman’s partner owns a business in Panama. She performs administrative work for her partner’s company herself. Both the woman and her partner have one or more bank accounts in Panama. In June 2020, the woman tried to open a checking account for herself and her children, but Rabobank refused. The Complaints Institute Kifid was then approached to make a decision in the case.

Rabobank: risk of money laundering

Rabobank argued to the Dispute Board that the woman has an increased risk of money laundering or terrorist financing, which means that the bank is obliged to carry out stricter customer knowledge checks. In this context, the Bank referred to sources from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It follows that Panama is a country without efficient AML / CFT systems. Because Panama is on this list, the bank has classified the country as a high-risk country. Statements from the woman suggest that she will use the account to receive money from Panama, she and her partner still have bank accounts in Panama and she works for her partner company which is based in Panama. Against this background, the Bank has concluded that there is a high risk that the requested accounts will be fed directly or indirectly with funds from Panama. The bank therefore states that it is not in a position to form a transparent picture of the origin of the funds in the accounts, while on the basis of risks it is obliged to carry out a stricter customer knowledge check. Now that the bank is unable to meet its obligations under the Wwft, it is required to reject applications for a basic current account.

The bank can not meet Wwft obligations

In the opinion of the Kifid Complaints Committee, the bank has sufficiently explained and justified that, on the basis of the risk analysis it has carried out, the bank could conclude that Panama qualifies as a country with increased risk and that the relationship that the woman has. with the country is entails having to perform enhanced customer knowledge. The bank has also sufficiently documented that, based on the woman’s statement, it will have insufficient insight into the cash flows in the account and therefore will not be able to meet its obligations under Wwft. The committee assumes that the woman and her partner as parents have been prosecuted for custody of their minor children, as it has not been stated or proven otherwise. The parental authority obliges the parents, among other things, to manage their children’s assets so that they are inextricably linked to their parents, at least with regard to the requested payment accounts. The Committee therefore does not consider it unreasonable that the bank, even with regard to children, has come to the conclusion that it will have insufficient insight into the cash flows in the accounts and will not be able to meet its Wwft obligations.

The fact that Panama, as the woman claims, has been designated by the FATF as a country that has committed itself to correcting shortcomings in cooperation with the FATF does not change this. The list also states that these are countries with strategic shortcomings in the prevention of money laundering. In addition, since 1 October 2020, Panama has also been identified by the European Commission as a third country with a higher risk of money laundering.

The woman further stated that the bank erroneously did not take into account that the payment account had been applied for for the purpose of entering into paid employment in the Netherlands. It is also not true that her partner or she herself has a company in Panama and that they both have bank accounts in Panama. The conclusion that the bill is being fed is therefore unfounded, the woman believes. The committee finds that the bank has explained that it has, among other things, relied on statements from the woman herself. She has documented that the woman actually made these statements by submitting copies of her administration. If the woman believes that the information available to the bank from the bank is incorrect, it is up to her to substantiate this further. However, she has not done so.

She based the bank’s statements that there is a relationship with a company in Panama, on databases on the Internet, which show that the woman is registered as a director of the company in question. The bank therefore has good reason to believe that there is a relationship between the company in Panama and the woman. Why this would not be true has not been clarified by the woman. The bank has also shown willingness to enter into dialogue with the woman to see if removing inaccuracies and ambiguities can lead to a different outcome. That the woman does not want to cooperate further after an initial meeting is at her own expense and risk. This is all the more so now that the bank is required to conduct stricter customer due diligence and is prohibited from entering into a relationship if it is unable or unable to conduct that investigation properly.

No discrimination

There is also no question of discrimination, the Appeals Committee believes. The bank’s explanation shows that applications for a payment account have been rejected due to the risk that accounts will be fed directly or indirectly with funds from Panama that are classified as a high-risk country. It can therefore not meet the requirements of WWft. It follows that even if the woman had had a different nationality, the application would have been rejected if there was a risk that the account would be directly or indirectly funded by Panama. There is therefore no direct distinction on the basis of nationality. Although it is conceivable that an indirect distinction is made on the basis of the Panamanian nationality of the consumer, the distinction made by the bank is based on generally binding rules, in this case Wwft and the rules adopted by the European Commission in the fourth . the directive on combating money laundering established risk factors. In that case, the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality does not apply.

Balancing of interests

The Committee notes that it recognizes the important importance of women and her children in being able to participate in society. However, this does not change the fact that the bank is legally obliged to carry out stricter customer knowledge surveys in the case of a woman, and to reduce the risk of money laundering. As the bank was unable to meet these legal obligations, it was obliged to reject the applications. The committee will therefore propose that the woman still let the bank handle those obligations properly so that the possibilities for a basic current account can still be explored.

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