The banks claim they’re complying with anti-money laundering regulations.
Spain’s Association of Financial Users (ASUFIN) has announced it will be representing Chinese residents in Spain in their legal struggle against three of the country’s biggest lenders, BBVA, Caixabank and Bankia, which it accuses of contravening Spain’s data protection and consumer protection laws and even the Spanish constitution.
The three banks in question recently froze the accounts of thousands of Chinese residents in Spain for almost two weeks, in accordance — or so the banks claim — with Spain’s money laundering regulations. On Feb 15, after weeks of being locked out of their accounts, feelings finally boiled over and hundreds of Chinese residents took to the streets of Madrid to decry the banks’ actions. It was the biggest spontaneous public protest ever held by Chinese residents in Spain.
The bank at the center of the current scandal — Spain’s second largest lender, BBVA — allegedly froze 5,000 accounts belonging to Chinese nationals out of a total of around 40,000, according to the Chinese Association in Spain (ACHE). Many of those customers were Spanish born children of Chinese parents who say they were not even warned their account was about to be frozen.
“These are normal people, without risky movements or suspicious operations.” says Patricia Suárez, president of ASUFIN. “They are angry and have even protested, something quite unusual among the Chinese”…