Some Finnish banks require Somalis to be Finnish citizens to have access to online banking

by , under Enrique

Migrant Tales understands that employees of banks like Nordea, Osuuspankki and Handelsbanken in Kouvola and Mikkeli tell Somalis that they must be Finnish citizens in order to have access to online banking. A blog entry published in March 2012 highlighted the difficulties that stateless persons face in opening a bank account never mind gaining access to online banking. 

Migrant Tales reported a year ago that a Nordea bank employee in Mikkeli told a stateless passport holder that he would need a valid passport to open an account.

Banks refuse to serve stateless passport holders because the person’s former identity cannot be confirmed on the document.

If one asks ten African immigrants if they have online banking or not, some will tell you that they have while others don’t, even if they are all stateless passport holders. This suggests that banks treat stateless persons and/or some Africans arbitrarily.

According to a stateless passport holder, some branch offices will give you online banking servies, while other’s won’t. Some banks require a passport and others a driver’s license to open a bank account.

“We went to the Osuuspankki branch office in Kouvola and inquired about online banking,” said a Somali-born immigrant. “The bank employee told me that I need to be a Finnish citizen before I can have online banking services. I should inquire to the police about this, the employee said.”

JusticeDemon said a year ago that there is a clear administrative problem over what counts as proof of identity and over the  implementation of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (Accession by Finland on 10 October 1968).

One point of that Convention is Article 27 (Identity papers), which states, “The Contracting States shall issue identity papers to any stateless person in their territory who does not possess a valid travel document.”

According to the Ombudsman for Minorities contacted last year by Migrant Tales, an identity card issued by the police should count as valid identification just like a passport.

The National Discrimination Tribunal of Finland (Syrjintälautakunta) gave Nordea Bank Finland a conditional fine of 5,000 euros for not accepting a French identity card as proof of identity, the Tribunal said in a statement.  Moreover, the Tribunal considered the bank’s refusal to serve the client and his removal from the premises as an infringement on his dignity and integrity.

  1. PS voter

    You should remember that banks have also obligations to avoid money laundering. For example, if I try to save just few hundred euros on my own bank account, bank is oblicated to check my identity and I have to fill a form, where I tell where I the money is from etc. If the person is not ablo to prove he he is, it is easy to see that bank might get into trouble for breaking money laundering rules.

    And being statelss doesn’t mean that you cannot prove your identity. However, if you destroy your identification documents, like many illegal immigrants do, just before arriving to Finland, you might have troubles with opening bank accounts. You should not destroy your identification documents, if you are arriving legally.

  2. PS voter

    And this kind of requirement of checking identity is something that other western countries tend to demand as well. For example, here is some Australian rules:

    Knowledge about a customer’s identity is necessary to determine the money laundering
    or terrorism financing risk that the customer may present. A cornerstone of the AML/CTF Act and a reporting entity’s AML/CTF program is to establish and verify the identity of
    its customers.

    as well as identifying and verifying a customer before they begin to receive a designated service, from 12 December 2008 entities are required to conduct ongoing due diligence assessments of the money laundering and terrorism financing risk posed by the customer.

    The AML/CTF Act requires reporting entities to:

    verify a customer’s identity before providing a designated service to the customer