John Binns speaks to The Mirror on frozen bank accounts and POCA investigations

John Binns speaks to The Mirror on frozen bank accounts and POCA investigations

BCL partner John Binns is quoted in The Mirror’s article titled ‘HSBC suddenly blocked my bank account – and left me without a penny to live on’

Here’s an extract from the article:

Solicitor John Binns specialises in anti-money laundering cases at BCL law firm – and he says he’s seen a spike in customers who have been accused of this in recent years.

Binns says he currently has number of clients who are subject to account blockages and are struggling to deal with the harsh measures that banks are increasingly adopting.

“We’ve not kept count but can safely say we’ve had hundreds of queries on this in the last couple of years, from businesses and from individuals,” he said.

“Unfortunately, once it’s referred to the NCA, there are real limits on what you as the customer can do. The bank will often tell you nothing for fear of committing ‘tipping off’ offences, so you may be completely in the dark about why they have become suspicious.

“Although you can try to engage with them, it may not help and you must cautiously assume everything you give them will be shared with the NCA, police, HMRC, or any other state agencies that may be interested.”

John says you can submit a Data Subject Access Report (DSAR), but this will take a month to process and the bank may hold back data if they think it could prejudice an investigation.

“You can also complain to the Financial Ombudsman, although that is unlikely to yield quick results,” he says.

“If the bank has asked the NCA for consent, then a statutory time period kicks in – first seven working days, then another 31 calendar days if they refuse. After that time, the bank is legally allowed to do what it’s asked for consent to do.

“If the authorities want to freeze your funds after that, they will need a court order. We’re accustomed to dealing with orders like that and any other fall-out, such as a criminal enquiry.”

However John says he’s increasingly seeing cases where the banks aren’t asking for consent.

“Instead they are just sitting on the funds indefinitely. That’s a very different kind of problem.”

 

This article was originally published by The Mirror on 23/01/2020. You can read the full article on their website.

John Binns is a partner at BCL specialising in all aspects of business crime, with a particular interest in confiscation, civil recovery and money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”). His business crime experience includes representing suspects, defendants and witnesses in cases invoking allegations of bribery and corruption, fraud (including carbon credits, carousel/MTIC, land-banking, Ponzi and pyramid scheme frauds), insider trading, market abuse, price-fixing, sanctions-busting, and tax evasion. He has coordinated and undertaken corporate investigations and defended in cases brought by BEIS, the FCA, HMRC, NCA, OFT, SFO and others.