Bank account frozen

BanksFrom time to time I am contacted by people who have found their bank account frozen by the bank without warning or explanation.  Perhaps the account holder discovers this when he attempts to use a debit card, draw cash from an ATM, use online banking, or visit his bank to pay money in or take it out.

What should the customer do and what can he expect to happen?

 

Contact the bank

The first thing to do is to contact the bank and ask for an explanation.  The bank might be rather evasive in response – perhaps referring to ‘technical difficulties’ – or the bank may refer the customer to a specialist department (such as the fraud department) – or the bank may hand over a pre-printed leaflet about money laundering.  But the bank are unlikely to provide a full explanation about what is happening or when the account will be unfrozen.

If the bank won’t tell the account holder what is going on the likelihood is that someone at the bank has flagged up the account for possible ‘money laundering’.  In other words someone at the bank (or the bank’s computer system) has noted what appears to be unusual activity on the account which might be connected to proceeds of some sort of crime.

If that is the case then it may be helpful if the customer very swiftly supplies to the bank further information, explanations and, if possible, documentary evidence in support of an innocent explanation for any unusual recent transactions.

Also, if there is a particularly urgent need to have the account unfrozen – for example where the account is a business account and it is necessary to pay employees’ wages or a supplier almost immediately – tell the bank about the urgency.

The bank will not disclose which transactions have triggered their action or what suspicions they have, so the customer will be left guessing how he can best put the bank’s mind at rest.

But that further information needs to be supplied as quickly as possible, preferably the same day – delaying for a couple of days will probably be too long.

 

Inside the bank

What is happening inside the bank is probably that the customer’s account (or accounts) will have been referred to the bank’s anti-money laundering or anti-fraud department for consideration of whether a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) should be made to the National Crime Agency (NCA) by the bank’s Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO).

If the MLRO decides that there is a valid basis for a suspicion of money laundering (which is very widely defined) then an SAR will promptly be submitted to the NCA.  The SAR will ask the NCA to give consent for the bank to unfreeze the account.  Once that SAR is submitted matters will be largely out of the bank’s control – which means that nothing is likely to be achieved after that time by the customer supplying further information, or making a complaint, to the bank.

But the bank will not normally tell the customer whether it has made an SAR or when the SAR was submitted.

Once the bank has submitted an SAR to the NCA the account will remain frozen until either the NCA have replied to the bank authorising the bank to unfreeze the account, or the ‘notice period’ has elapsed without the bank receiving any response at all from the NCA.

The ‘notice period’ is seven working days starting from the day after the bank submits the SAR to the NCA.  So, for example, if the bank submitted an SAR on Thursday 9 June 2016 the ‘notice period’ would end on Monday 20 June.

In practice however the NCA aim to respond to these consent requests before the end of the ‘notice period’.  If the NCA are told by the bank that there is a particular urgency they will attempt to respond particularly swiftly (which is one of the reasons the customer should tell the bank if there is a particularly urgent need to have the account unfrozen).

If the NCA require further time to consider the matter they will respond to the bank by refusing consent.  Once that happens the account will remain frozen until the ‘moratorium period’ expires.  The ‘moratorium period’ is 31 days starting with the day on which the bank receives refusal of consent from the NCA.

So, for example, if the bank receives refusal of consent on Thursday 16 June 2016 the last day of the ‘moratorium period’ will be Saturday 16 July.  The account should then be unfrozen on the next working day.

[UPDATE: The Criminal Finances Act 2017 includes legislation which will allow a court to extend the ‘moratorium period’ by up to a further six months (an additional 186 days).  This is not yet in force.]

During the ‘moratorium period’ the NCA will continue to consider the position and may at any time give the bank consent to unfreeze the account.

If the NCA do not give consent then the bank should unfreeze the account once the ‘moratorium period’ has expired unless in the meantime the authorities have obtained a ‘restraint order’ from a Crown Court judge.

If a ‘restraint order’ has been obtained from a Crown Court judge then copies of that order are served promptly on the bank and on the customer (and perhaps also on others, such as the Land Registry).  A ‘restraint order’ will normally freeze all the assets of the customer indefinitely.  There is more information about ‘restraint orders’ HERE.

A customer who is served with a copy of a Crown Court ‘restraint order’ should seek advice from a solicitor experienced in such matters immediately.

 

What can the customer do?

The bank ‘s customer will not know whether the bank has submitted an SAR to the NCA, when the SAR was submitted, or what response has been received from the NCA, if any.

Because of this the customer will not know when the ‘notice period’ or the ‘moratorium period’ are due to expire.

Aside from very swiftly providing additional information and documents and telling the bank about any particularly urgent need to have the account unfrozen, as already mentioned, the customer will be able to do little more than check with the bank every day whether his account has been unfrozen.

 

What about the Banking Ombudsman?

In my experience the Banking Ombudsman does not intervene where the bank has a suspicion of money laundering and is acting in accordance with its Terms and Conditions.

 

How often are bank accounts frozen?

Figures published by the NCA indicate that they receive approximately 8,000 consent requests each year from banks, building societies and similar institutions.

The NCA on average respond to these consent requests in five working days – and give consent in about 90% of cases.  In about a further 5% of cases they give consent during the moratorium period.

However even where consent is granted the bank’s customer may become the subject of an investigation by the authorities (such as the police, HM Revenue and Customs or the Single Fraud Investigation Service).

 

What is the legal basis for this?

Most of the relevant law is to be found in Part 7, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 – particularly in s335 and s340.

A case concerning the freezing of a bank account when a suspicious activity report had been filed with the NCA by the bank was considered by the Court of Appeal in London in the case of The National Crime Agency v N & Royal Bank of Scotland plc [2017] EWCA Civ 253 (07 April 2017).  The court concluded that it would only very rarely be appropriate for the court to interfere with the temporary freezing of a bank account where a report had been made to the NCA.

 

How long will the account be frozen?

In the majority of cases the account should be unfrozen within about two weeks.  In a minority of cases the account will be frozen for up to about six weeks, perhaps slightly longer.

[UPDATE: The Criminal Finances Act 2017 includes legislation which will allow a court to extend the ‘moratorium period’ by up to a further six months (an additional 186 days) which will mean that an account can be frozen for up to about 32 weeks without a ‘restraint order’. This is not yet in force.]

Where a ‘restraint order’ is obtained the account will remain frozen after that.

 

What happens after the account is unfrozen?

After the account is unfrozen the bank’s relationship with the customer may return to normal or the bank may write to the customer asking him to close his account (or accounts) within 60 days and move to another bank.

The bank may not give any reason for requiring the customer to close his account.

 

Can the customer claim damages against the bank?

I am not aware of any cases in which bank customers have successfully claimed damages against their bank in relation to an account which has been frozen because of a reasonable suspicion of money laundering (even where, on investigation, no ‘money laundering’ was discovered).

 

Contacting us

Our contact details are here.

David

(Note: This article applies to matters arising under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in England and Wales.  Appropriate professional advice should be sought in each individual case.)

109 Responses to Bank account frozen
  1. Simon
    June 13, 2016 | 2:55 pm

    It should be noted that a lot of banks have changed their T&C’s stating that they will NOT be liable for losses caused by this OR any other account frozen activities (say for example where the bank has a software error, your account is frozen and then magically, it’s working again the following week without a reason from the bank).

    This can have a big effect in relation to mortgage/loan payments with external entities (i.e. other banks) where their terms and conditions penalize the borrower harshly if they miss a payment. A clear example of this is with Mortgage Express customers with mortgages managed by UKAR – one missed payment and the mortgage is lost.

  2. john
    June 30, 2016 | 2:52 pm

    My friends account has been frozen now for almost eight years without explanation. They are allowed £60 every week to live on! How can this be possible?

    • David Winch
      July 1, 2016 | 11:28 am

      Your friend should speak to his solicitor. No doubt he is subject to a ‘Restraint Order’ made in the Crown Court. As mentioned in the article a restraint order continues indefinitely.
      However it is possible to apply to the Crown Court to have a restraint order cancelled (lawyers say “discharged”) or amended – for example to increase the amount the subject is allowed to withdraw each week or to limit the restraint order to only certain assets.
      If your friend has not yet been charged with or convicted of any offence then he will have particularly strong grounds to have the restraint order discharged.
      There is more on restraint orders HERE.
      David

  3. Tim Summers
    September 22, 2016 | 11:11 am

    I have been given 60 days to move my business accounts. The letter states ‘this is our final decision’ My completely legitimate business that maintains impeccable paper trail documentation moves large amounts of funds in and out of the accounts. Very little of this is cash but despite this it appears we are subject of an SAR with NO recourse to a defence. I experienced this before, about 8 years ago when Barclays withdrew over £120,000 with no notice and told me all banking with them, business and private, was terminated with immediate effect. It cost me around £10,000 in legal fees to get the business funds back and I had to move to a different bank with whom I have had zero problems since until today. My problem is that I now do not know which bank(s) will now consider my business. Are there any recommendations or lists of banks that are sympathetic to businesses that are fully legitimate but who have fallen foul of the SAR system? Any help would be appreciated by email. Thanks

    • David Winch
      September 22, 2016 | 11:21 am

      If you have been given 60 days to close your accounts, but your accounts have not been frozen, then I do not think you are the subject of a Suspicious Activity Report. It sounds as if the bank consider you to represent a higher than normal cost of monitoring & you are (from their point of view) not worth the trouble.

      I can only suggest you approach other banks & hope for the best.
      David

  4. Nina
    September 26, 2016 | 1:55 pm

    My partner’s bank account has been frozen for over 6 months but he has not been served with a restraining order he has been interviewed by the NCA due to them investigating him for money laundering just wondered how the bank is still able to freeze his account without him having a restraining order

    Nina

    • David Winch
      September 28, 2016 | 8:01 am

      Nina

      I suggest your partner speaks to a solicitor who can write to the bank on his behalf.

      David

  5. Nina
    October 1, 2016 | 12:21 pm

    We have a solicitor but I was just wondering if you Have a restraining order on you if you would defiantly be notified after 6 months of your account being frozen

    • David Winch
      October 1, 2016 | 5:55 pm

      If the Crown Court has issued a restraint order the persons subject to the order (such as your partner) should be notified almost immediately – within three working days at most.

      David

  6. Ben
    October 3, 2016 | 11:13 pm

    Hello David my accounts with NatWest have been frozen since last Wednesday. I have tried all approaches to contact with branches, customer service, fraud team but no one could explain for me at all, does it mean they are highly likely doing a money laundring investigation on me? My cousin did transfer a lot of money to my account as she needed me to pay university tuition and accommodation for her before she comes to the UK ( she doesn’t speak English well so I needed to sort things out for her). Then my account just got frozen after 3 days she did a transfer to me. My accounts have been frozen for 4 workings now, my question is if I should pay for a lawyer now or it’s better to wait until the Notice Period and Moratorium Period expire?
    Thanks very much David!
    Ben

    • David Winch
      October 4, 2016 | 8:35 am

      Ben
      It is likely that your account has been reported within the bank due to a suspicion of money laundering. Was the money received from an account outside the UK? If so, it may take longer for enquiries to be completed & the account to be unfrozen.
      I do not think a lawyer could achieve anything for you at this time.
      If you have not already done so, please explain to the bank the reason for the transfer & the legitimate source of the money. After you have done that you just have to wait for a while.
      Good luck.
      David

      • Ben
        October 4, 2016 | 9:09 pm

        Hello David, all the money I received was from the UK not outside of the UK. My cousin transferred to me and asked me to do things for her. She was in the U.K. and with NatWest Bank too.
        I called NatWest costumer service again and they still couldn’t tell me anything. What would you suggest me to do?

        Many Thanks again!
        Ben

        • David Winch
          October 4, 2016 | 9:17 pm

          Have you told NatWest who paid the money into your account (your cousin), why she paid it to you and what you intended to do with it?

          David

      • Ben
        October 4, 2016 | 9:43 pm

        He David I did try to exlain to the bank but basically they just don’t talk to me. They wouldn’t tell me anything and listen to me and I never received any letters too. I have not paid for a solicitor yet, I cannot do anything apart from thinking to find a solicitor. Did you say I may need to wait longer? Does it mean it may take longer than notice period and moratorium period?

        Thanks a lot

        Ben

        • David Winch
          October 4, 2016 | 9:52 pm

          Don’t ask them anything – just tell them what you want to tell them (your explanation). Type it in a letter & get an extra copy. Take both copies into the bank & ask them to sign & stamp the copy (while you wait there) & give it back to you as confirmation they have received it.

          After you have done that all you can do is wait. You do not know when the bank submitted a report to the NCA. The initial period of seven working days starts with the first working day after that report is submitted by the bank.

          Check every day to see if your account has been unfrozen.

          David

          • Ben
            October 5, 2016 | 11:10 pm

            Hello David
            thank you very much for your help. I did bring a letter to the branch. They would not take it. I think I will have to just wait? I submitted a complaint letter to NatWest and got a reply from them today. They still said they are not obliged to tell me anything. If I’m not happy with this I can make a complaint to FOS. Should I do that? Hopefully I can sort it out soon. I’m so frustrated at the moment.

            Cheers!

            Ben

          • David Winch
            October 15, 2016 | 8:47 pm

            I do not think a complaint to the FOS will achieve anything. The FOS will simply tell you that the bank are acting in accordance with the terms & conditions which apply to your account.

            David

  7. Aamir
    October 15, 2016 | 6:59 pm

    Hi David,

    On 26th August 2016 bank Natwest froze my partners account with money it. We had kept some money on a side to extend our house while we were waiting for the planning permission to be granted. Soon we started the work and made first payment to the builders this happened. Since than we have been calling them but they keep saying call us next Friday. Shall we get in touch with a solicitor now or still wait? We do not even know which transaction they have doubts about so we could give them any sort of explanation.

    Many thanks David…

    Aamir

    • David Winch
      October 15, 2016 | 8:41 pm

      Aamir

      I would expect that within the next 7 days or so one of three things will happen. (1) The bank might unfreeze your account, probably with no explanation, and everything would simply return to normal. (2) The bank might unfreeze your account & then write to you giving you 60 days notice to withdraw your money & close your account with them, probably with little or no explanation. (3) You may receive a copy of a Crown Court order which will freeze your bank accounts, and probably your other assets, until further notice.

      If you receive a copy of a Crown Court order you should see a solicitor about it as it is possible to apply to the court to have the order relaxed or removed. It is possible that your accounts will remain frozen for months, or even years.

      If none of these three things have happened then I would suggest you see a solicitor in a week’s time.

      David

  8. Mo
    October 27, 2016 | 8:54 pm

    David,

    Great article, really helped me understand what is happening to my account.

    My bank account has been frozen for about two days now, you talk about unusual activity as a possible reason for an account to be frozen, in my case my account has probably been frozen down to unusual activities.

    In order for me to challenge the bank regarding this how far do I go back with regards to unusual activity? my father transferred me £4000 a year ago do rustle about looking for these documents? or is it the £1000 I put into my account last week that has been flagged up as ”unusual activity” or was it the $700CAD I spent on my card last month whilst visiting Canada?

    I hope you can help me understand how far back (or not so far back) I need to go in order to prove my ”unusual activity” to the bank.

    Kind Regards,
    Mo

    • David Winch
      October 28, 2016 | 5:46 pm

      Mo

      It is more likely to be monies deposited in your account in the last few weeks which has concerned the bank.

      David

  9. Daisy
    November 17, 2016 | 7:26 am

    Hello there,

    My three accounts have been frozen since 16th Oct. I have called the bank nod went to the branch, and I have been told to provide several documents. Basically they are suspecting one large transacation from China, which is my fund for my university and living in the U.K., and another seven transacations done by a rigistered converting company in the U.K. I paid them Chinese money from my Chinese bank account and they gave me sterling back, but they did it by putting the cash to my accounts by seven transacations. I have provided the confirmatation letter from the company claiming that they did the seven transacations. However they required further documents, such as the bank letter from my mom showing the resource of the money from my Chinese bank and also another letter from the company which needs to show all the details of the business between me and the converting company, such as date, exchange rate, and an explanation why they did it by cash instead of online transacations. I’m running out of my money and I’m worried because I do not think the bank will be satisfied by the letter from the company again. Also the company would be reluctant to provide so many details in case they get into trouble. WhT do you think I should do at this stage? I have not received any letter from the bank as well.

  10. David Winch
    November 26, 2016 | 1:12 pm

    Daisy
    I think the only thing to do is to provide the bank with as much documentary information as you can.
    David

  11. john
    November 28, 2016 | 4:31 pm

    Hi David

    My account has been frozen since the 9th November without any explanation from the bank. i contact them everyday and they say there is a technical issue with my account.
    i have no access to my salary and payments cannot leave or enter my account.

    its been 3 weeks now do you advice that i contact a solicitor?

    • David Winch
      November 28, 2016 | 4:52 pm

      I do not think that a solicitor will be able to do anything useful for you. Presumably the bank have a suspicion of money laundering and have made a report to the National Crime Agency. The bank will not unfreeze your account until either the time limit for a freeze expires (which is typically about 6 or 7 weeks from when the account was frozen) or the NCA give consent for the account to be unfrozen.
      There is nothing useful you can do now except check every day to see if the bank account has been unfrozen. If the bank ask you for any information do supply it immediately – but they probably won’t ask.
      David

  12. Lee
    November 29, 2016 | 2:15 pm

    Hi David

    My Dad was the Company Director and he died a few months ago. I took over as Director, but stupidly carried on using the bank account as the business needed the OD that was in place. Bank recently froze account after finding out, but knowing they were going to do it I transferred the credit balance to my own account. Personal account got frozen but this has now been sorted but £3500 was paid into company account (effectively my salary) a week after it got frozen. Bank keeps fobbing me off saying they will email me with what I need to take into branch in order to be a signatory but then not sending the email (said they’ve sent it but checked spam and its definitely not there) Ive also given them company email address. Not sure what to do next.

    • David Winch
      December 1, 2016 | 9:53 am

      If the bank account was in the name of the company & you were appointed a director of the company then there is nothing wrong in continuing to use the company account for company purposes. I do not understand why the bank froze the accounts.
      Are you saying that £3,500 has gone missing from the company bank account?
      David

  13. Morris Matjie
    January 5, 2017 | 11:58 am

    Hi David,

    My business bank account was frozen because of my client. I was not notified of this activity before or after the account was frozen. My client and I made an agreement that I would assist her with academic research, writing and editing of her dissertation. She paid a first deposit in two separate installments (50% of overall project fee) and I commenced on her project. After I made 75% of her work, I submitted to her and she had to pay the second 50% in order for me to complete and submit to her. She made the last payment. When I left my city for another city for a few days, I forgot my company cellphone on a charger back in my office. I explained this to her in an email. But when she could not find me on my cellphone, she went to the bank to ask that my account be frozen because she “suspected fraud”. She never engaged me on email, even if she knew she could find me easily there.
    The bank froze my business bank account and has never notified me of the situation surrounding the freezing before or after they froze it. I was shocked when I tried to withdraw funds to find this is impossible. When I went into the nearest branch, they asked if I knew XXX XXX (name of my client) I explained I knew her and that I was doing work for her. The consultant said my client requested the freezing because of non-rendering of service despite the fact that I submitted at least 75% of the work promised to her (about 90 pages out of a total of 125). I explained this but the bank could not help me.
    I then got in touch with the bank’s fraud department to explain the situation. The fraud consultant asked me to call her from the nearest branch. I promised to get there within 30 minutes. When i got there I saw the branch manager and explained. The manager made a call to the number on which I reached the fraud consultant, but the phone just rang unanswered for more than 7 times.
    I got in touch with the client and asked her to remove the hold on my account. She allegedly went to the bank and they ordered her to make another affidavit to state reasons why she wanted the hold removed. She said she made the affidavit and presented it. But the account was not unfrozen nevertheless. I called the fraud department again and spoke to the consultant who placed the hold on my account. She said she received no affidavit from my client except the one stating why they must place the account on hold. I explained my client emailed me her second affidavit stating reasons why they have to remove the hold. The consultant asked me to email her the affidavit. I did and the account was unfrozen, after 6 days of headache and inconvenience.

    David, I want to know if I can sue my bank for this inconvenience and for improperly placing a hold on my business bank account. Why did the bank take my client’s claims for truth without contacting me for verification or at least for notifying me that my bank was placed on hold due to any of the reasons they stated? I want to know if they acted improperly and on what ground I can sue them.

    • David Winch
      February 21, 2017 | 11:47 am

      You need to discuss with a solicitor (I am an accountant) whether you can sue the bank. As mentioned in the article, I am not aware of any cases in which a bank has been successfully sued where there is a genuine suspicion of ‘money laundering’ and the bank has adhered to its terms and conditions.
      David

  14. James
    January 6, 2017 | 5:47 pm

    Hi David,

    I requested a large cash withdrawal from my bank. They said at the time they did not have the funds available and would likely have them around 4 days later. I woke up the day before they were due to have them to find my account had been frozen.

    I went into the branch to find out why, they said they were awaiting on authorisation to proceed with the withdrawal (I believe this was just to keep me waiting longer about the fact they were looking into my account). I trade on behalf of clients and had large investments come in recently and after I thought the bank may have been suspicious and blocked my account I went down with a rake of transaction history and authorisation (with signatures) from investors for these purposes and had the bank stamp them. I only have a select number of investors around 4 currently and have funds coming in from the US and Australia.

    It has now been around 2 weeks since I provided documentation (without them asking) and I still have no update from the bank. It is the only bank account I have with any significant money in it and I am finding these times hard providing for my partner and two kids. How long will my account remain frozen for and what may be generally happening here?

    Thanks,
    James

    • James
      January 12, 2017 | 5:46 pm

      Update, bank have said I can make a withdrawal next week and have scheduled a time to come in. However my account remains frozen and they said they will unfreeze it and everything after the withdrawal, which I found strange. The bank said they are finished looking into my account..

  15. Matthew Wonder
    January 19, 2017 | 6:10 pm

    I have a personal multi currency account with Nat West Jersey.
    They froze the account on 19 th December, but I did not find out about it until 16 th Jan. I called the bank, they asked me about some large deposits 27K and 47 K Euro. I explained what they were for.
    They said my account would be unblocked the next day
    It wasn’t they called me to ask for passport copy
    I said ok no problem – some of the money was from work in Iran, they asked me a lot of questions about this. Especially if I had “Utalized any of my own funds in Iran. I had not I was working for a German company and got paid from a German company and they paid all my in country expenses. I think the Ziran thing has made things much more complicated. Now they want a copy of my passport certified by a lawyer who they can and will contact to verify and they also want original copies of utility bills. Now I am abroad on business and cannot easily supply this stuff. However they did ask me for all this stuff about 2 years ago. They have asked me by email am I using my account for business. It is not a business account.
    After reading your posts I think I had better tell them I am. I mean it’s obvious and they never cared before. I have loads of money in there and I need access to it. All my bills are paid from the accounts including my mortgage, also with Nat West.
    Compared with some posts I have read the bank are being helpful, I have had an account with them for over 20 years.

  16. Felix Okenarhe
    January 21, 2017 | 7:11 am

    Hi David, my account has been frozen for 3months with no explanation from Santander after £5000 was deposited and a transfer of 2K. I have provided all evidence including the account statement of the transfer attached with drivers license of the sender all in the UK but still no explanation no court order nothing. In the midst of the this, my international scholarship fund of £2400 was paid into the frozen account and again, I got letters from my sponsors, Telex copy for the transaction and still it is frozen.

    On the 3rd of Jan, with no prior notice, I was informed that my account was closed and a written letter from the bank that they are no longer convienient with me being their customer. I should go to the bank and return my card and make arrangement to retrieve my funds £9400. Upon getting there my card was destroyed and I was asked to return home and in 7 – 10 working days they will post me my cheque. After the period no cheque and I called and was instructed to go the bank with prof of Id to collect my funds. On getting to the bank, they told me they call the security team and no such info and they will write to me in due course with no time frame.

    I told them my student Visa expires in 10days and I need my money to buy ticket for me and my family out of the country. After I called the team that ask me to go the bank and they spoke with the branch officials, my ID was scanned and I was how I would like to collect my money. I told them a transfer but to my surprise after 10mins they came back and said they are sorry they have to decline my request based on instructions and they will contact me. My Visa expires on the 30th of Jan 2017, I don’t have a dime to remove my belongings, I owe money and relied on the bank information that they will post my funds in 7 – 10 working days and now they have given me no clear date or information.

    I believe if investigations not concluded my account will not be closed. How can they close my account after freezing it for 3months, destroy my card and refuse to me give my money. I have not been served with any court order nor invited for questioning, yet I have provided evidence of all the source of the money.

    My blood pressure is high, my Daughter has Sickle cell how can I return back to Africa with no money. I have read so many reviews and my case is different. Please I need an advice thanks.

  17. Chris
    January 30, 2017 | 5:59 pm

    Hi David,

    After your advice. I have had my bank accounts put on 60 day notice. I have tried going through the account closure team and got no where and awaiting a final response. I don’t believe any Fraud on account and my credit report is clean. I have been with bank a number of years but was interested if you heard of cases that they may just shut the account as it is used quite heavily. I have a few BTL with mortgages/rent going in and out etc and wonder if they think commercially this may seem a lot. Really finding it very strange as nothing suspicious on account or ever flagged.

    Regards
    Chris

    • David Winch
      February 21, 2017 | 11:52 am

      Normally the bank’s standard terms and conditions will allow them to close the account on 60 days notice.
      David

  18. Andrew
    February 13, 2017 | 8:31 pm

    Hi my bank account has been frozen by natwest for a week now.no explanation and my life has been put on hold because of this.i have been borrowing money to keep going and its put such a massive strain on me. How are they allowed to do such a thing something needs to be done and rules need to be changed.
    Ive had a deposit of my father to help buy my first home and they think im money laundering.
    I have had to notified my mortgage company which is nationwide and i might not get a mortgage because of all this. I am an innocent man thats done nothing wrong they have the cheek to tell me my direct debits have bounced and charging me for them as well.there are ppl worse off than me i know but the way they treat you as a customer is disgraceful and they put so much strain on your life and im at rock bottom at present and if i dont get the mortgage because of this it will have ruined my life and they should not be allowed to be this.

  19. Anthony
    February 28, 2017 | 4:38 am

    My account has just been frozen as well. Same story as most of the people above. My mother’s account was frozen last year for 4 months causing the woman a lot of stress and financial distress.
    To make matters worse, they refuse to honour a standing order for my rent! Do these people expect me to be homeless?
    I am going into the bank today with evidence of the deposits in my account however, I will also refuse to leave until they do something about my rent and restoring my account. I will go in there with a selfie stick recording everything and if I am lucky, they will get the police to remove me after which I will forward the story to news agencies and tarnish their image (let other customers see how the bank could treat them).

    We can’t let them get away with this BS! I will let you know how it goes…

  20. Jenny
    March 2, 2017 | 11:11 am

    Hi David,

    Both of my UK accounts with HSBC and Natwest have been frozen recently without explanation which certainly has caused a lot of distress. Putting that aside, I am also changing jobs at the moment and interviewing with a few companies, will this ongoing investigation and frozen account affect my credit check and my employment credit/background check, and tarnish my employment prospect? Please help.
    Thanks so much.

    • David Winch
      March 3, 2017 | 1:39 pm

      Jenny
      Have you received any Court order or communication from the police or other investigating authority?
      David

  21. Engriud Y Woodruff
    March 19, 2017 | 5:47 pm

    Chase bank got my account frozen for no reason and they keep lying to me like they are going to send me a check through FEDEX so what is the problem I have been patience like they told me for 10- days what is going on I need to know

    • David Winch
      March 19, 2017 | 10:29 pm

      We are based in the United Kingdom. I believe you are based in the USA. We are not familiar with the law & banking practices in the USA, sorry. Seek local advice.

  22. Daniel H
    March 21, 2017 | 1:41 pm

    Hi David,

    We sold a commercial property and the money from the sale went to my solicitors bank account. Since December HSBC has frozen her bank account (with my money in it as well as other clients) it has been 3 months now. I desperately need the funds , My solicitor does not know what to do or say to me…

    I have an offer on a house agreed and I don’t want to start the conveyancing process if I’m not sure I have the deposit money readily available…

    What are the best steps for us to take to pursue this matter swiftly?

    • David Winch
      March 22, 2017 | 2:43 pm

      Daniel
      You need to speak to a (different) solicitor about this.
      Your solicitor may be under investigation by the police or the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority.
      The likelihood is that you will eventually get your money back – but this could take months.
      David

  23. Neil
    March 23, 2017 | 7:06 pm

    My business bank account was frozen by Lloyds on 22/03/2017. There was a payment made on 17/03/2017 to the account and money was taken out by bank on 22/03/2017. I got no clue of what this payment is, who paid it to my business account. I don’t get payments from individuals in my business account. Now the bank has a block on my account and none of my direct debits or credit card receipts will be allowed into my account. They are not helpful either. I explained to them that i dont know who made the payment and i got no clue of the money. My calls kept transferred from one department to another and when i visited the branch they said they cant tell anything at the moment. I am not sure what has happened. Some one has paid into my account and the bank has refunded it to them and froze my account. Not sure how many days they are going to block the account. Can you please advise what should be done?

    • David Winch
      March 25, 2017 | 4:11 pm

      The best thing to do at this early stage is keep talking to the bank & keep checking to see if the account has been ‘unfrozen’.
      David

  24. natalie johnston
    March 27, 2017 | 10:37 am

    Hi David,

    My account has been frozen with Lloyds since the 28th February 2017.

    I opened an account with them back in November 2016 and transferred my savings of 10k into the bank account.

    I have contacted the bank on numerous accounts and all I told is that its frozen due to a processing error and there is no time scale on when it will be dealt with. I have made a complaint and its not getting me anywhere. I have not been issued with a restraint order and I also do not have any debt.

    Please can you advise what you think I can do or what you think is happening as I need access to my funds to feed my son

    regards

    Natalie

    • David Winch
      March 31, 2017 | 8:43 pm

      I do not believe that the account has been frozen for several weeks because of “a processing error”.

      I think your account will have been the subject of a Suspicious Activity Report to the National Crime Agency. As you know from the article there is an initial period of up to 7 working days and a further period of up to 31 calendar days (known as the moratorium period) after that.

      I believe you are now in the moratorium period. Sadly, if you have already provided the bank with a full explanation of any unusual activity on your account, there is little you can do except check every day if the account has been unfrozen.

      If you are served with a restraint order you should seek advice from a solicitor without delay.

      David

  25. Adam
    April 11, 2017 | 7:25 am

    Hi David,

    My metro isa account has been frozen for 4weeks with no explanation given to me…only thing the bank will tell me is somebody from the relevant department will be in contact when I can use my account…after many long phone calls with the bank they told me then that I would receive a letter when I can use the account…I have banked with NatWest for 9 years and have my wages and direct debits with them,,was only using metro for savings so it was harder for me to spend as I like the casinos,, over the period of April to April I paid in £15000 in cash in total,,over various deposits…from various different incomes…and the sale of a car..then 4 weeks ago needed £7000 which I rang in advance for and was able to collect….since then my account has been frozen…I’m guessing they have done a SAR report….what would you recommend I do to resolve this matter and get my remaining funds from these people? Thanks

    • David Winch
      April 11, 2017 | 2:22 pm

      I expect the matter has been reported to the National Crime Agency, which means that the bank cannot now unfreeze your account unless either (a) the NCA give consent to the bank or (b) the moratorium period expires (which may not be for about another 2 or 3 weeks).
      Check with the bank every day to see if the account has been unfrozen. If you receive a ‘restraint order’ take advice from a solicitor without delay.
      David

  26. Jade Smith
    April 11, 2017 | 8:13 pm

    Hi David,

    I found out today that my account has been frozen, I have not had any unusual activity on the account or big sums of money deposited. Neither have i transferred large sums of money, so i am a little confused as to why this has happened. I bank with TSB and when i call them they are unable to provide me with any specifics just that i will receive a call back tomorrow by 8pm. I am very worried about this, all i ever receive each month is my wages which is from a PLC and maybe a bit of money from my dad which he transfers from his account to mine. All the money is traceable and from verified sources. I was wondering whether you can give anymore insight on this situation?

    I wondered whether this could all be a mistake on the banks part? I never really have more than £2500 go into my account each month.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    KR,
    Jade.

  27. Edward
    April 21, 2017 | 12:26 am

    It is sad reading all the comments here and I honestly feel gutted knowing that the banks can basically get away with holding our money without any explanation. My question to you is whether the UK laws you have explained above apply to the Isle of Man? I received a notice of account termination on 7th April and was asked to provide alternative bank details so that they could transfer the balance. I did this on 10th April but since then no updates or communication from the bank. I keep calling the bank but the customer care isn’t really helpful.

  28. Ik
    April 27, 2017 | 10:45 pm

    Hi David?
    My case is that I am running small travel agency and one of my customer he has complaint to his bank Santander that we took his money fraudulently or either he said he don’t know how our company took his payment? My company account is with Natwest and they froze my account but after few days by providing them all the proof, my bank has unfrozen my account, but from that date Santander bank has put my account on black list or fraudulent as anyone Santander’s customer want to transfer money into my companies account, Santander bank stop transaction and tell customers that this company is fraudulent or something, it’s over a year and I am losing my customers as I have contacted Santander through phone and they said speak to your own bank, even wrote them but no reply and my own bank is quiet as well. Even though all other bank transactions are normal.
    Now I have wrote to ombudsman and they wrote to Santander Bank and now I got letter from Santander that they are going to investigate now and will get back to me in 4 weeks and now tomorrow 4 weeks are going to finish and still waiting? Can I sue them as I am losing business because of irresponsible behaviour of Santander Bank?

  29. Miya
    April 28, 2017 | 8:06 pm

    Hi David,
    I bank with Natwest and just 2 days ago Natwest froze both of my personal accounts. I put in a cash deposit of almost £7k back in Feb2017 when they applied a ‘referral marker’ on my account. They then did nothing about it and they advised me that I hadn’t verified where the funds had come from eventhough I did verify it with the staff in branch. 2 months later they have now applied an ‘No Operations marker’ on my account and have taken details of where the money came from and why etc. Iv given them all this detail and I havent heard anything back. Are they investigating me for any wrongdoing? I’ve handed in my debit card and i still have my business account open and active with them. Please advise as I am getting very worried.

    • Miya
      April 28, 2017 | 8:08 pm

      Also, the reason why they applied the ‘No Operations Marker’ was perhaps because I was trying to pay £4k into an offshore business account as part of a business investment. Many people have paid into this account and there hasn’t ever been any issues with them and this account is legimate.

  30. Vicky
    April 28, 2017 | 9:28 pm

    My partners account has been frozen for over 2 years. No explanation, no access. In that time we’ve fallen pregnant, had child and he’s now 20 months old. We have no idea why this has happened. He naturally changed banks, the same has happened on this one too and this has been about a year. Again no notice, explanation, access. However they will randomly allow some payment transfers out of it, small amounts and it’s completely at their mercy as to whether they decide to allow it.

    He’s clearly been singled out for some reason but we have no idea why. There’s definitely no money laundering going on! We have no idea who to turn to. The ombudsmen haven’t done anything. There have been countless meetings with no outcome. Phone calls always receive a “the manager will call you back” and needless to say they don’t. We’re at our wits end, we desperately need the money in these accounts. Any suggestions welcome.

    • Vicky
      April 28, 2017 | 9:31 pm

      Just to add. In all this time we haven’t received any official letter from ANYONE to notify or explain.

  31. Matthew
    April 29, 2017 | 10:33 am

    Dear David..
    Last Tuesday I tried to do a overseas payment from my Santander account
    For a invoice in Amsterdam.i could not do it online so I attempted it via telesales….
    It’s a business account and soon as that had happened I have not been able
    To draw any funds out.funds wil go in.nothing comes out though.again same story as most.nobody talks to me….I have been getting regular payments from my Chinese merchant account every week anything from 6k-12k a week but that has been going on for ages so I do not understand why they would suddenly flag it
    regards matt

    • W J
      July 1, 2017 | 12:33 pm

      Hi Mathew,

      I had exactly the same happened to me two days ago with Santander after an overseas transfer to USA, can you please let me know what happened with you?

  32. Dee
    May 6, 2017 | 3:37 pm

    Hi, I tried to withdraw money but was declined on my NatWest account. I called them and they advised a letter had been sent and I should go to the branch with I.D. So I did. Sat there for an hour and told they can’t give me any information and I cannot take any funds out of my account. My balance is largely my salary. It’s a current account used for bills. I can justify every penny credited and every debit. Yet they won’t give me any information or access. No letter has been sent…that was a lie too. Confirmed during my visit to the branch.

    Please help, any advice appreciated. I work in the financial sector(not banking) so I understand fraud issues etc. This is ridiculous as the account is so transparent.

    • David Winch
      May 10, 2017 | 3:59 pm

      Dee
      At this stage all you can do is provide the bank with documents and explanations regarding any recent unusual transactions and hope that the account is unfrozen soon.
      David

      • Dee
        June 5, 2017 | 9:04 pm

        Hi David,

        Just to update…my account became active n I was given 60 days notice of closure. No qns were asked just got told they didn’t want me as a customer. I still have not been given any explanation of this situation from NatWest.

        Regards

  33. Tino
    May 10, 2017 | 12:16 pm

    Basically on the 5th of may a direct debit was set up in my bank on my NatWest student account and l reported it when l got an alert that it went over my student overdraft. I called the bank then they cancelled the transaction. I asked them to send me a new card and they told me that there was no point in doing that so l went online via lost and stolen to order a new card. In this time they cancelled my card 12 hours later.
    Two days later they froze my account as a whole and then I called the bank to ask what was happening and they simply referred me to the closure team. So after this I called the company where the person set a direct debit and they confirmed that the name under my details wasn’t my name and the person was not based in the area that l live. They then proceeded to tell me that the bank can call the company to get the details of the person so l called the bank to tell them this and they simply took this down and placed it on their complaints team.
    But if my bank gets closed l have no other accounts I’m a student who recovers their student loan, my parents pay money into that account and I receive my pay check from my job all from that account. It’s put me in such a difficult position

  34. TH
    May 10, 2017 | 3:27 pm

    On the 5th of May 2017 l reported that there was a transaction which was made as a direct debit on my account it made my account go over the agreed overdraft. This transaction which was listed was a car insurance company called Privilege car insurance. Lucky for me the bank was able to send me a notification that the account had gone over the agreed over draft so l immediately called Natwest to explain that this transaction was not made by me. This call was made roughly between 07:30- 08:00 am in the morning. Proceeding from the call the man then told me that he stopped the direct debit from my account which was comforting and that the money would return back into my account the next day. In the call l then enquired to order a new card, with this request the man said that there was no point in ordering another card as the person who set the direct debit up had used the same information which was my sort code and account number. l then asked if l can report this to the fraud team of which l did and they told me that no action was needed as the man had already stopped the direct debit and that it wouldn’t affect me at all.
    On the 6th of May 2017 my account was back to it normal self and the direct debit was removed from my account l felt so much better and continued with my day but l still felt uncertain about my card being the same so l went online and ordered a new card through the lost and stolen section. This then alerted me that the card for my current account would be deactivated within 12 hours. l proceeded to use my card as l had 12 hours till it got deactivated and went to Mcdonalds where l bought a meal for roughly �2 something along those lines, this was the final time using this card. I started to use my savings builder card to withdraw money as my transactions can be shown on the system. On the 8th of May upon making my way to my exam l tried to withdraw money out of my savings builder, this is when my card got retained within the machine. l was stunned as to why this would have happened. l then proceeded to check my mobile banking app where it came up with the message ‘sorry, but we can’t find your customer details please try and login to Online Banking via our website to resolve the issue’. At this moment of time l was not able to do anything as l had an exam to attend. After my exam at 1600 l then tried to login to my online banking through the website. This was when l got the message which told me that my account was disabled and that l should contact someone. As soon as l got this message l then proceeded to call the bank once again only to be told that they couldn’t find my account and that there was a flag on my account and that l should contact a number which was 03453039016. l tried to call the number that the bank had provided me with and it started talking about bank closure team and l was so confused as to why l would be directed to this team. Unfortunately the team wasn’t available as it was out of office times for them so l waited till this morning.
    On the 8th of May 2017 in the morning exactly at 0900 am l called the closure team and they informed me that my account was flagged and that they regretted to tell me this but they had to close my bank account. All of this was too much of a shock as l had done nothing wrong towards the bank. The woman simple told me that there was not much information that she could disclose and that there was nothing more she can do for me and that l should look under section 7.1 for the terms and conditions of Natwest.
    l looked under the terms and conditions and found out that the bank is able to close my bank if they believe the account was being used for illegal purposes which has never happened before, false information of which any information which was given to the bank was all correct and l have records of this and making staff feel abused. All three of these points didn’t apply to me so this really got me confused. So l took it into my consideration to do my own investigation. The only reason l could think for these problems to happen would have to do with the transaction which took place in my account from privilege car insurance. So l simply called them and asked them to check if my account was on the database for their company and the man who l spoke to called James told me that my account details were registered into their database but it turned out that my name was not registered on the database and the person was not based in portsmouth where l live. James then simply told me to tell the bank that they can call the company to verify this information as they have also reported it to their fraud team. They said that they are only able to disclose the name of the person who has used my account details to the bank and not me.
    l then went on to call the closure team once more to explain to them the information that l had gathered and the woman who talked to me in the morning was the same person l talked to in the afternoon. She simply took down the information which l already explained and said she was going to file an appeal to look into what l had said.

  35. Juan Carlos
    May 18, 2017 | 5:22 pm

    If a business account has been frozen. Can the business close the account to have their funds withdrawn from the bank? Can formally asking to close the account trigger some sort of delay in which the bank has to formally proceed with closing the account ?
    Our account has been frozen for two weeks now with no explanation from the bank but we suspect it has to do with the fact that we do regular transfers to China, Central America and Taiwan since we are a trading company.

    Thank you,

    Juan Carlos

    • David Winch
      May 18, 2017 | 6:50 pm

      Juan
      The money in the account will not be released any earlier if you close the account.
      David

  36. Daniel
    May 21, 2017 | 11:10 am

    Hi David(: i have massive problem with my personal nat west bank account . I sold my Business 3 weeks ago And the New owner make transfer to my private bank account sum of 17,250 last tuesday i go to nat west branch to pay out 12,500 And i find out my account has been frozen ):): bank ask me to provide New owner bank statement Which we did on this same day but is still frozen they said they cant give me any information at this stage. It is a very big problem for us we have kids And they left me without nothing to live on 😭😭😭😭also i have limited company Which i own tax about 4 k my question is if this is problem because if they can take money from my private account to pay death limited company or they just checking money laundering Please let me know many Thanks xxx

    • David Winch
      May 21, 2017 | 12:23 pm

      Daniel
      This sounds to me like a suspicion of money laundering.
      Unless you have given them authority the bank should not take money from your personal account and transfer it into the company account.
      David

    • Daniel
      May 21, 2017 | 2:22 pm

      Thanks David , this guy who buy Buissnes of me he own big company And he pay for the Buissnes from his company money And he provide his bank statment to our bank. You think if they also Check him up they will unfezze my private account ? Thanks for your help 😘😘😘

      • David Winch
        May 21, 2017 | 8:20 pm

        The bank have probably submitted a report to the National Crime Agency. The bank will not unfreeze your account until the NCA tell them that they can.
        David

        • Daniel
          May 21, 2017 | 8:51 pm

          Many Thanks Dawid xxx

  37. Adnan
    May 28, 2017 | 4:50 am

    I am an international student from India, & came here for maritime studies. I have deposited the cheque of £6000 in my account on 9 May 2017 which I had brought from India for my personnel expenses. Furthermore on 16th May 2017 when I wanted to withdraw the money from same account the branch officer had told me that my account has been ceased due to internal enquiry of the funds. For that I have submitted all relevant documents on 18th May 2017 which has asked by the bank such as my ID proof (Passport), original source of funds, transfer of funds details & conversion letter from the Cox & Kings ltd. & a letter from college. Also I have provided the my bank manager letter & my account copy which reflects the transaction of the funds. I m still awaiting to access my account as I don’t have any money for my personnel expenses. Request you to kindly advice me regarding the same as I m in much more trouble due to finance in other country

    Adnan

    • David Winch
      May 30, 2017 | 9:34 am

      Adnan
      You have provided all the information you can to the bank. All you can do now is check with the bank every day to see if your account has been unfrozen.
      David

  38. Daniel
    May 30, 2017 | 9:50 am

    Hi i wait 6 working days my account back to normal now 👍👍😜😜😜😜

  39. Adnan
    May 30, 2017 | 5:38 pm

    Thank you David
    Now I can hope for the best only.

  40. Raj
    May 31, 2017 | 12:06 am

    Hi David
    I got told by bank in the letter that the account will be closed in 60 days time. I was in holiday at the time of letter. When I came back and phoned to the customer care number which is on the letter.The person on phone said I haven’t being registered for online banking might be the reason. I was busy at business and I have completely forget about it. Since lots to do and catch up when u r away for a month. Now I can’t access my bank account either by online or withdraw money out. All my money was in the account and I can’t able to pay to the suppliers . I am keep calling the bank and they are saying they will let me know when I am allowed to take the money out. I even told them I will go to police to make a compliant if I am not come to know by Tuesday. I got a call from police today asking for an interview regarding the cash transactions with my business account. It’s genuine businesss and turn over is more. since bank says we already send a letter that it’s closing in 60 days but when I spoken to the customer care they have given wrong detail. Which causing all this hazel, stress and frustration. I have applied for new accounts now and need my money since all my funds got stuck and my cash flow is really tight and need to pay the corporation tax which are due too. So can you help me what to do next please. I will keep you posted what the police are saying tomorrow
    Thanks
    Raj

    • David Winch
      May 31, 2017 | 7:17 am

      Raj
      I would urge you to go and see a solicitor before you talk to the police. The likelihood is that the police suspect you may be involved in criminality of some kind. The purpose of interviewing you will be for them to gather evidence against you which they can use to prosecute you in court. You might even be arrested as soon as you arrive at the police station.
      Do not say anything to the police without a solicitor (even if you are totally innocent and have nothing to hide). You are entitled to have a solicitor with you (free of charge) while you are being interviewed at the police station.
      David

  41. Raj
    May 31, 2017 | 7:30 am

    Thanks David
    I haven’t contacted any soliciters at the minute and I have to see them by 10am. Is there anyway I can get any soliciter help or who is the best person to take with straight away. In the phone when police called said it’s not about the arrest it’s about the taped discussion.
    Thanks

    • David Winch
      May 31, 2017 | 8:02 am

      Raj
      Check for a local solicitor who has a 24 hour emergency number (a lot of solicitors do). If necessary just google local criminal legal aid solicitors & look at their websites. Ring the solicitor now and discuss the position.
      David

  42. Mg
    June 4, 2017 | 10:54 am

    My natwest accounts have been stopped since 26 May. The day before I received a large credit from my brother (fldifferent bank). My account wad stopped before with another bank. On the first call they sorted it, saying it was an admin error. I went to see Natwest on 1 June. No use. I even had my documents to show them it was a genuine transaction. But they didn’t ask me to show it to them. A utility company I hold shares with are doing very well. I wanted my brother to join them. So lent him the money. He said no. Returned my money a few days later. I used to work in the financial sector. Know all about the SAR, POCA & SOCA. I’ve been with my bank about 15 years.
    As they’ve probably done a SAR
    a) Should I show them the documents tomorrow or too late?
    b) if still frozen after 7 days, what should I do?

    • David Winch
      June 4, 2017 | 11:25 am

      I would recommend that you still show the documents to the bank tomorrow.
      Check every day with the bank whether the account has been unfrozen.
      Don’t forget that the initial notice period is 7 WORKING days (so that excludes weekends and Bank Holidays) and it commences from the day after the bank submit the SAR.
      In most cases NCA consent comes through in the notice period.
      David

      • Mg
        June 5, 2017 | 12:58 am

        Thanks David
        Should I tell them I worked for 1 of the big 4 UK accounting firms. A client was RBS, of which Natwest is a part. Went through all the due diligence and AML checks before starting and during the contract?
        Or is that ovet the top and just explain about the large credit?

        • David Winch
          June 5, 2017 | 8:28 am

          I suggest you just explain about the large credit and explain that from your own work you understand the position re SARS etc.
          David

  43. Munir
    June 22, 2017 | 9:31 am

    Hi David
    HSBC froze my account without warning on 1st of feb we went to shopping our card got declined mine and my wifes.contacted bank they said its an identity theft but it was actually mistaken identity .The stress we had to go through until ban was lifted after 3 days .we struggled financially and scared by local bank managerto think my identity has been stolen.He was lying through his teeth until we called a guy in geneva who had sanctioned the ban he told us it was someone else.i am thinking of claiming compensation from them as what they did was wrong and without warning they left us strapped for cash on top got lied to by bank Manager.can you plz advice us on this.thanks.

    • David Winch
      June 25, 2017 | 8:48 pm

      I would suggest you speak to a solicitor, but I am not optimistic about your chances of getting compensation.
      David

  44. Valguard
    June 22, 2017 | 5:22 pm

    Hi David,
    Thanks so much for this article, as it provided more information than anywhere else I could find!

    I am desperate for help and don’t know who to speak to.
    My severely disabled and elderly dad was abandoned by his wife and is in a care home. He has been assessed as having mental capacity.
    His flat has been left empty and he wanted to sell it to buy something more suitable so he could return home.
    Long story short, he’s sold his flat, transferred approx £60,000 to me to put into a new account and sent some to my son. None has been touched or withdrawn.
    From what I can gather, someone… Don’t know who… Has made a claim against the money. That’s fine, we can deal with that……. Except…Natwest have frozen his account (84 yr old disabled man)
    They’ve frozen my Coop account (50+ years on high rate mobility and care dla that had just gone into my account.
    Frozen my friends Barclays account that I had recently returned some borrowed money to. It can clearly be seen that it came from my money. (He is also on dla and very unwell)
    Frozen my sons Lloyds account that I’d transferred money to prior to the sale of the flat, from dad’s savings – he wanted me to share it out.
    AND frozen my sons Halifax account that he has his wages paid into and which has had no connection with any transaction but apparently part of the same banking group as Lloyds, I now gather.
    The branches tell us to phone customer services; customer services tell us to go to the branch and still we don’t know what’s going on!!
    Can they really just shut down elderly and disabled people’s accounts without access to even minimal withdrawals? There is a very clear trail of the money and nothing has been touched, just moved about at dad’s request. Surely he had the right to do this.
    I just need some quick advice and direction as to where to go for help. All suggestions gratefully received. Even if I don’t reply as this is taking its toll on me, I will read and follow guidance. Thank you!

    • David Winch
      June 25, 2017 | 8:46 pm

      When did these accounts first get frozen?
      David

      • Valguard
        July 19, 2017 | 7:53 pm

        Hi,
        Accounts first frozen on Tues 20th June.
        Brief update…
        My bank – coop allowed me a one off withdrawal.
        My son was also allowed the same by Lloyds.
        However my friend, who is an innocent bystander has had his Barclays account closed. He has also opened 3 other accounts. One got frozen immediately a deposit was made. The other 2 wrote and told him that they can’t continue the accounts.
        All of this whilst the investigation is still ongoing.
        The Financial Ombudsman raised a complaint. I received a call telling me tough and they don’t have to tell me anything or give any timescales.
        And still, my sick dad can’t access any money. I took him from the care home to a branch – they refused to talk to him, confirm id, nothing!

        I am so disgusted that the banks are a law onto themselves and can literally cause so much mayhem, with impunity,under the false guise of looking after customers interests. What other body, doesn’t have published guidelines and expectations?

  45. darren
    June 26, 2017 | 9:03 pm

    Hi David
    I bank with the TSB and last Thursday l received a call from their fraud prevention department asking me about a payment being claimed from my debit card from an american education company. I told them l recognised the company and l indeed had made previous subscription payments to their advisory forum. However l had not on this occasion give consent for the renewal payment and to this end l requested the payment be stopped and the TSB agent advised a new debit card would be issued to me. I thought nothing more of the phonetical until l came to make an internet banking payment the following day and a message came up requesting l contact the help line number. Upon doing so l was requested to go into my local branch with ID. I did this immediately only to find all three of my accounts had been frozen and no explanation could be given to me by the branch manager other than that they had been told to tell me the matter had been escalated. I have today made a formal complaint and as yet all my accounts are still frozen with no access to my funds. I have another bank account with a different bank and have no problem with this account. Thankfully l can draw on funds from my other account to keep my family fed etc but l am at my wits end what to do next. I am a self employed sole trader and rely heavily on my TSB accounts for my rental income, mortgage payments etc. It is worth noting all payments in and out of my TSB accounts are electronic and no cash.
    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and advice on what l should do next.
    Many thanks in advance
    Darren

    • David Winch
      June 27, 2017 | 9:32 am

      Darren
      Keep in touch with the bank, checking every day if the account has been unfrozen.
      David

  46. darren
    June 27, 2017 | 12:34 pm

    Hi David

    Many thanks for your reply. Further to my last message, after initially being told by my branch all direct debits would still be honoured until my accounts are unfrozen, l have just had my mortgage company ring me today as they have not received my monthly direct debit payment which was due out yesterday. How can this be fair! I have just rang TSB and they are saying all activity concerning my account is now frozen until further notice. I really am at my wits end and it appears there is absolutely nothing l can do about it.
    Is there any further advice you can give me regarding this matter?
    Kind regards
    Darren

    • David Winch
      June 27, 2017 | 12:46 pm

      Darren
      You face a real difficulty. In practical terms all you can do is wait & hope – and keep checking to see if the account has been unfrozen. I would expect that someone at your branch has flagged up your account as having suspicious activity and referred it to a specialist office within the bank for further consideration.
      That office will either ‘unfreeze’ the account or refer it to the National Crime Agency for consideration by them. If that happens the bank then cannot unfreeze the account until either they get permission from the NCA to do so or the time limit for a response from the NCA (initially 7 working days) expires.
      David

      • darren
        June 27, 2017 | 9:48 pm

        Hi David

        Thank you once again for your reply. The frustration is of the scale as l have been with the TSB for over 20yrs and always run my accounts impeccably. The whole matter just seems nonsensical and to have been blown massively out of proportion.
        I will heed your advice and sit tight while l get some sort of resolution with this sorry state of affairs.

        Best wishes
        Darren

      • darren
        June 27, 2017 | 9:50 pm

        Hi David

        Thank you once again for your reply. The frustration is off the scale especially having banked with the TSB for over 20yrs now and having always run my accounts impeccably. The whole matter just seems nonsensical and to have been blown massively out of proportion.
        I will heed your advice and sit tight while l get some sort of resolution with this sorry state of affairs.

        Best wishes
        Darren

  47. darren
    July 6, 2017 | 10:50 pm

    Hi David

    Quick update.

    It is now 2 weeks tomorrow since all my TSB accounts were froze and l still have no explanation. Equally as annoying is the fact that when l made a formal complaint 9 business days ago l have still yet to receive a response even though l was told it is bank policy to respond within 5 business days, either verbally or in writing, l have had neither. It is now obvious, for absolutely no good known reason to me, that my banking activities are being looked into at an higher level and indeed l would hazard a guess that l have been subject to a SAR’s.
    I continue to speak to my branch manager daily and check my online banking in the hope that normality will return soonest.
    This, like many others in your open forum discussion, is effecting my sole trading business very badly now with returned rental payments, mortgage dd’s etc.
    Is there anything else l can do at all? and what is your thought process of where l may be now in this bizarre process?
    Many thanks in advance
    Darren

    • David Winch
      July 7, 2017 | 8:06 am

      Darren
      Hopefully your accounts will be unfrozen very soon. If they are not unfrozen in the next few days then probably the NCA will have initially refused consent for the bank to unfreeze your accounts. That means that the NCA will then have a further 31 days to make a decision. Your accounts will remain frozen until either the NCA make a decision that they should be unfrozen or the time limit expires (or a Crown Court order is obtained to freeze the accounts for longer).
      David

  48. Pete
    July 9, 2017 | 9:04 pm

    Hi, I had someone send 30k into a business partners account, the money is legit. My business partner then tried to send that money without using the intermediary account and sent it directly to our other business partner in Sierra Leone who is from Sierra Leone and is also an ambassador. The money didn’t go through and the UK account was frozen. It has been nearly 60 days since this occcured and the original money is clean and we weren’t laundering money. In aware that it may have been an issue that he didn’t send it via the intermediary bank account and just straight to the beneficiary. I am also aware that he sent it to a politically exposed person. My business partner in the UK sent the bank the business partnership agreement and explained that the money is for an export licence. This has been a disaster and has left a sour taste in our mouths. What do you think went wrong and how long until the bank can unfreeze the account.

    • David Winch
      July 10, 2017 | 9:07 am

      Pete
      It looks like the bank regarded this as unusual activity and potentially a money laundering issue. The bank (in the UK) will therefore have submitted a Suspicious Activity Report to the National Crime Agency in London and requested their consent to allow the payment to be made. If it is nearly 60 days I would expect that very soon now either the account will be unfrozen (check with the bank every day if the account has been unfrozen) or a Crown Court order will be served on the account holder to freeze the account indefinitely.
      David

      • Pete
        July 10, 2017 | 11:15 am

        Thanks David,

        But if there is no evidence on money laundering what would be the reasoning behind freezing the account indefinitely.

        • David Winch
          July 12, 2017 | 8:56 pm

          The Crown Court could freeze your account indefinitely if a criminal investigation has commenced and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the alleged offender has benefited from his criminal conduct. However if there are no reasonable grounds for such a suspicion the Crown Court should not freeze the account.
          David

          • Pete
            July 12, 2017 | 9:59 pm

            Thanks for the advice, David. Much obliged.

  49. Vertus
    July 10, 2017 | 5:08 pm

    Thanks so much for this website, it has been essential to me understanding what has happened to me. I pay thousands yearly for my banking, so was shocked when I was treated so appallingly.

    Like many on here I am completely innocent and am just trying to run a business legally and peacefully, but I can see how my usage profiles might look weird to a bank. It seems unfair that a bank is able to absolve itself of responsibility of properly assessing customers by referring to NCA which has such a destructive effect on innocent parties. A 90% approval response from NCA is grotesque, and shows the extent of this problem on innocent people.

    My main question is what is the connection between the SARs to NCA and CIFAS markers? If my bank has filed a SAR with NCA, will it have also put on CIFAS fraud markers?
    When my accounts are unfrozen do I need to chase my bank and CIFAS to ensure I am completely clean?

    I’m also trying to disaster planning now for my family and business – is it a bad idea to try and open a bank account with another bank now?

    If my accounts remain blocked for too long, I will have to borrow money to pay my tax due soon. I suspect I will have no recourse to claim compensation for losses incurred from borrowing the money, esp from the Shah vs HSBC case.

    • Vertus
      July 11, 2017 | 10:17 am

      Update: I received word I would be unfrozen today, although was asked by the bank to leave.

      I have done nothing wrong, but the bank considers my account too risky.

      Bank in question was Queen’s bank. I thought when I signed up with them that they would be better placed to understand the business patterns of entrepreneurs. I was wrong.

      • David Winch
        July 12, 2017 | 4:08 pm

        It is not unusual for a bank to ask a customer to leave within 60 days of unfreezing his account.
        David

  50. David fisher
    July 10, 2017 | 7:51 pm

    Hi david my bank account lloyds was blocked 7th July 2017 I have been in contact with all departments and all they tell me is go back to my branch.have been talking with the branch they have past it on to another team bank Will not tell me the name of team nor the contact number my account is not been running wrongly just very worried because my house rent Ness paying could you please help me regards

    • David Winch
      July 12, 2017 | 8:50 pm

      The likelihood is that the bank will by now have made a Suspicious Activity Report to the National Crime Agency. The NCA initially have up to 7 working days to respond to the bank. In practice they often respond well within that period.
      You should check every day with the bank if the account has been unfrozen.
      David

  51. LP
    July 11, 2017 | 3:10 am

    Hi, All our bank accounts have been frozen. I recently closed a business (Vol Liquidation) and we set up a company in my wifes name and bought the assets (client contracts).

    We received a large payment (£10K) into our new business which immediately froze the account with Barclays. It was pay day for our staff so we diverted a payment that was due that day to my wifes personal account (as she is the Director of the new company) and used the funds to pay all the staff, otherwise they would not get paid. Initially all was ok and we were working on getting the Barclays account unblocked. Then the client who paid the money in to my wifes account contacted his bank (First Direct) as he read some lies about us on the internet and got spooked. Now my wifes account and ALL staff accounts are completely blocked. We have spoken to the banks and offered them all the information they asked for (contracts with clients, proof of purchase of the clients etc.) we have also given Barclays all the paperwork they have asked for. My wife and I have not slept in days worrying about the situation and all our staff bank accounts. We have had to close the business for a week while we try and “sort the issue out” but obviously there is nothing we can do as we are not in control! Every time the staff go into their branches or speak to their banks, they are being told that there is DEFINITELY money laundering going on with my wife and their banks are all “in review”. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Equally if anyone knows of a decent solicitor to sort this issue out assuming we need to contact one?

    • David Winch
      July 12, 2017 | 4:17 pm

      There can be legal issues connected with the liquidation of a company, particularly where the assets are purchased from the liquidator by the new owners who set up a new company.
      Was the liquidation a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation or a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. Is the name of the new company similar to that of the company that went into liquidation?
      When were the bank accounts first frozen?
      David

  52. David
    July 25, 2017 | 12:19 pm

    Hi, The bank has closed my bank account for two weeks then they sent me letter by post telling me I have 60 days to close the account with no reason why they are closing the account. went to the branch and asked them to transfer the money in my account with other bank outside the UK, It has been nearly two weeks since I asked the bank to transfer the money but still haven’t send the money and the bank did not give me any reason why they didn’t transfer.
    Thanks

  53. Steve
    August 2, 2017 | 9:58 am

    David,

    The bank froze the business account of my friends 5 weeks and 1 day ago citing “technical issues” which I’d assume means an SAR has been sent. In your notes you suggested the moratorium was 31 days and the length of time prior to an SAR being sent could be up to 1 week. Surely this means that the moratorium has now lapsed and the account should be either unfrozen or a restraint order served on my friend. In the event that neither has taken place what rights does my friend have, any suggestions of words he can say to the bank?
    many thanks
    Steve

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