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Money-laundering PDF
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 00:00

Money-laundering is obviously big business - for criminals! And clearly needs to be controlled. To that end, the money-laundering regulations have been tightened up over recent years. However, my recent experiences with regard to the financial side of a house transaction demonstrate that the rules are surely way over the top! And extremely inconvenient for Mr Average Punter.

When I started to move sterling from various savings accounts to my main account in the UK a couple of weeks ago in order to assemble the funds I needed for a house purchase in Spain, I started to hit hurdles straightaway.

I try to use internet banking as much as possible, but my UK bank, Santander UK, has a daily limit of £10,000 for internet transactions. When I telephoned and enquired why, I was told "FSA rules to combat money-laundering, sir!"

However, this bank does allow you to transfer larger amounts by phone, but only if they can phone you back on your UK house phone to carry out a security check. Fair enough, unless you are abroad at the time!

When I enquired about obtaining a banker's draft (to pay for the house), I was first asked what it was for? "Mind your own business," I thought, but politely answered "For a house in Spain". I was also told there was a daily limit per account for bank cheques! When I asked why, I was told: "FSA rules to combat money-laundering, sir!"

Fortunately I have several accounts with Santander, so I could get three cheques for the full amount on the same day. A bit daft, but OK, it was a solution, and I was only going to be in the UK a short while. Little did I know I would spend three and a half hours in the branch while the clerk spoke at length with the Fraud Department. They wanted to know everything: where this bit of money had come from, and that bit, oh, and that large amount there. Bloody cheek! Of course, the money was all legitimate and I could verify the origin of each deposit into my account, but three and a half hours - come on! And what was the reason for this palaver? You’ve guessed it "FSA rules to combat money-laundering!"

I needed to exchange some sterling into euros and transfer the money to my Spanish bank in order to buy a car. The currency firm, Currencies Direct, asked me what the money was for. I said “Mind your own business!” They said: “Sorry, sir, it’s FSA rules ...” “Yeah, I know – money-laundering! It’s for a car.”

But it doesn't end there. When I get back to Spain, a couple of days before the appointment at the notary to do the house deal, I get a message that I will need to prove where the money for the house has come from. "¿Por qué?" I ask. "Por razones de blanqueo de capitales." (money-laundering!) comes the reply - I should have known better than to ask!

© Paul Whitelock

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Tags:  Money-laundering, money-laundering regulations, internet banking, Santander UK, banker's draft, Currencies Direct, blanqueo de capitales, paul whitelock,


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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