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"We used Paul to help us organise a wedding in Ronda for my English daughter and Scottish son-in-law. It was a very tricky matter, because it is not normal for foreigners to marry in the town. Nevertheless, we persevered and Paul did all the interpreting, talking to officials and making phone calls on our behalf. Needless to say, the wedding went perfectly, with a large part of the thanks going to Paul."
Mary Jackson, Colwyn Bay, Wales, May 2006

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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