The Safest Haven in a Risky World – Free Report/DVD
BY CRAIG R. SMITH
Author, Chairman Swiss America Imagine waking up one morning to find your bank locked and access to your money via ATM denied. Your ability to pay bills or buy food – and your boss’s ability to pay you – all gone in an instant, without warning. If your bank accounts and credit cards were suddenly out of reach for days, for months, or forever, what would you do?
Sound far-fetched? It’s already happening … NOW. What I mentioned above, capital control, is starting. And it all begins with restricted access to your own money.
Just this month, Stephen Cotton walked into the British building where he had banked for 28 years, a branch of London-based giant HSBC. He filled out a withdrawal slip for £7,000 he owed to his mother. The bank refused to let Mr. Cotton have money from his account.
“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. They wanted a letter from the person involved,” Cotton said.
The staff then refused to tell Mr. Cotton how much he could have.
“So I wrote out a few slips. 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.’ ”
Mr. Cotton was understandably upset about the situation, “I’ve been banking in that bank for 28 years. They all know me in there. You shouldn’t have to explain to your bank why you want that money. It’s not theirs, it’s yours.”
However according to new banking laws, he is mistaken. Your deposits belong to the bank. All you “own” is a deposit receipt, an IOU. And the banks have no responsibility to share this information with their customers.
According to a written response from HSBC, “As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account, we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change.”
Welcome to banking’s brave new rules, where the law now defines bank depositors as “unsecured creditors” whose accounts are owned not by them but by their bank … and your bank has become the de facto property of highly-regulatory government.
Before you brush this off as something only happening in Europe, JPMorgan Chase Bank sent a letter informing many American business customers that, “… starting November 17, 2013: “You will no longer be able to send International wire transfers” AND “Your cash activity limit will be $50,000 per statement cycle, per account.”
These changes, the letter said, “will help us more effectively manage the risks involved with these types of transactions.”
But to what risks is Chase referring? While this is all under the guise of ‘protecting the customer’ we all know it is far more important to Chase to ‘protect the banker’. This letter is likely a tiny foretaste of the kind of contingency plans at JPMorgan Chase, and at the other handful of giant banks, that de facto own more than half of all American bank deposits.
We have heard many stories from established Swiss America clients about their inability to touch the cash they have sitting in bank accounts with major banks. In fact, many of my friends and associates have been denied cash withdrawals in the last few months. All of them have been outraged and terrified as it has never been an issue in the past.
One incident happened very close to home. A well-respected Arizona businessman walked into a local, private bank to withdraw $17,000 in cash. A very regular occurrence for him. He was denied. When he asked why, the banker told him it would take two weeks to get enough cash. After threatening to remove all of his accounts from the bank, they agreed to have the money the next morning. Upon arrival, the money was not available. After a call to the president of the bank and yet another denial, the businessman demanded a cashier’s check for the balance of all of his accounts. Then, and only then, the money was released by the president.
Just yesterday (1/28), Bloomberg reported that My Bank, one of Russia’s top 200 lenders by asset, has implemented a complete ban on cash withdrawals until next week and the ban may be extended. A complete ban. Just let that sink in for a moment.
So why is this happening?
Take a look back at what happened last March to the people of the island of Cyprus. The government needed money and, with Europe’s approval, decided to confiscate a hefty piece of every private bank account, large or small.
What happened on Cyprus, said the head of the Eurogroup of 17 national Finance Ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands, would henceforth be the “template” for future government actions elsewhere. The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Bank of England had already jointly agreed to such new rules in December 2012.
In, 2014, Cypriots are still suffering from “capital controls” that limit how much money they can withdraw from their bank or take out of their country.
What happened to them is already being implemented at banks where we bank; despite the April 2013 disquieting reassurance by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that such seizure of American bank accounts is “extremely unlikely.”
Don’t just breeze past that. “Extremely unlikely?” That is terrifying. If that’s the best reassurance Bernanke could give, trouble for our bank accounts is ahead.
“All these regulations which have been imposed on banks allow enormous interpretation,” Member of Parliament Douglas Carswell told the BBC in a January 24, 2014 story. “It basically infantilises the customer. In a sense your money becomes pocket money and the bank becomes your parent.”
“We have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimize the opportunity for financial crime,” an unapologetic HSBC spokesman told the BBC.
HSBC depositors can be required to “provide evidence” that they will spend it in an HSBC-approved way before they can withdraw their OWN money – or they may find it frozen.
Worse yet, evidence is mounting that the U.S. banks have plans to do the exact same thing in the name of “protecting” depositors from the rising threat of cyber attacks and identity theft, which would also lock you out from any transaction involving YOUR funds.