- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2014

Several HSBC customers in England have complained of being stopped from withdrawing large amounts of their own money because they could not provide proof of what they planned to use it for.

Listeners told BBC Radio 4’s MoneyBox program that they were stopped from withdrawing amounts ranging from £5,000 to £10,000.

Stephen Cotton told the station that he tried to withdraw £7,000 from his savings account to pay back a loan from his mother.

“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for,” he said.

The bank apparently wanted a letter from Mr. Cotton’s mother.

“I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that,’” he said.

Mr. Cotton complained that he had made similar withdrawals before and had not been notified of any change in the rules.

Numerous others had reported problems, including a man who was asked to provide receipts for hotel bookings on his vacation.

HSBC admitted it had not informed customers of the change in policy, which was implemented in November, and that it was changing its guidance to staff.

“We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account,” HSBC said in a statement, BBC reported. “Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for.”

“The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimize the opportunity for financial crime. However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We are writing to apologize to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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