HSBC asks Syrians to shut accounts except for premium members?
To get all the facts straight, Kipp has contacted the head of communications for Middle East and North Africa to understand what was going on.
February 7, 2013 11:28 by kippreport
After seeping through some unconfirmed reports this morning, Kipp has received a statement from HSBC implying that some Syrians in the UAE will no longer be able to bank with them. Initial rumours indicated that some Syrians had received letters from the British bank informing them that they would have to – following a 30-day notice – liquidate their accounts and close them permanently.
Word of this notice initially leaked out on a local radio report and since then, Twitter has been abuzz with indignant reactions. To get all the facts straight, Kipp contacted the head of communications for Middle East and North Africa to understand what was going on. We have received the following statement:
“HSBC has a commitment to adopt the highest compliance standards across the Group. As a result, we must apply enhanced oversight on any customer with connections to sanctioned countries. Where we are unable to maintain sufficiently detailed information about such a customer through a relationship managed account, we are having to discontinue that relationship.
We recognise that this will cause customers some inconvenience. We have given customers more than 30 days notice and we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for affected customers to a new bank of their choice.”
Two Syrians based in Dubai said – while urging Kipp to keep them anonymous – that upon contacting the British bank this morning, they were told by representatives that a certain deadline has already been set; the 20th of March.
According to a report by Reuters, the bank will be closing all accounts belonging to Syrians in the MENA region, except for those earning a minimum salary of AED 15,000 or have at least AED 100,000 in their account at all times, thus classifying them as premier-class customers.
“It’s really weird…I called HSBC Bank today and they told me I’d have to close my account because I am Syrian,” he said. “And the disgusting thing is that they said it’s not personally about my nationality, but international regulations among countries and the economic ban. Good Morning Human Rights!”
Kipp has yet to gain access to the physical letters that have been received but if the above statement is an indication of anything, it is that international pressure is behind this move.
The pressing question that remains to be answered is whether other banks in the country plan to follow suit.