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Topic # 165688 17-Feb-2015 12:15
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So, I am headed to SE Asia later this year and part of the trip is an organised tour in Myanmar/Burma because it's just easier to do that there than go independent.

The tour operator is a specialist firm based in California. So I set out to pay the deposit of $1200 USD by using the foreign transfers part of ASB's Fastnet system. So far, so good.

A couple of days later my wife gets a call that goes something like this:

"Hello, ASB here. We need to talk to you about the money you are trying to send to Myanmar. There is a ban on transfers to Myanmar."

"We aren't sending any money to Myanmar. We're sending money to a company in the USA to pay for a tour that takes place in Myanmar. You can see that from the SWIFT codes my husband used - they are for Wells Fargo in San Francisco."

"But it says Myanmar on the legend."

"It says 'Deposit for Myanmar tour'"

"Oh. Well, we'll be in touch if we need any more information."

Yesterday, an email arrives as follows:

 

"We understand the payment is going to the US but because it involves Myanmar indirectly, we are still required to get an approval to release the payment. There is blanket ban on payments involving Myanmar at the moment.

 

Would it be possible to get a copy of the invoice please so we can attach it to our approval request form?

 

 If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us."


So apparently banks can now decide where I travel to. I rang them and told them to cancel the transfer and refund the money. They did so. So today I redid the transfer to the same recipient but ensured I omitted the word Myanmar.

What's the betting it goes through just fine....?!

Honestly - I have never heard of anything so stupid.





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  Reply # 1240758 17-Feb-2015 12:21
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I can empathize with the extra hassle, but on the flip side I would be pleased my bank was taking a proactive stance to protect my money being used fraudulently. Could you not just provide the evidence they requested? A simple email with attachment would have seen the issue promptly dealt with would it not? Molehill>mountain a touch perhaps?




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  Reply # 1240760 17-Feb-2015 12:22
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scuwp: I can empathize with the extra hassle, but on the flip side I would be pleased my bank was taking a proactive stance to protect my money being used fraudulently. Could you not just provide the evidence they requested? A simple email with attachment would have seen the issue promptly dealt with would it not? Molehill>mountain a touch perhaps?


No, because they required that in order to make an application to some body or other for permission for me to spend my money as I wished.

I won't tolerate that.





 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1240765 17-Feb-2015 12:26
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Wait, I thought you were totally ok with having your privacy screwed with in the name of protecting us from the ebil terrrrssts? ;-)




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  Reply # 1240767 17-Feb-2015 12:28
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What has my privacy got to do with it?

This is not a privacy issue, it's a stupidity issue. The money was going to the USA not Myanmar. Had I not mentioned Myanmar on the comments part of the form, the bank would not have even noticed the transfer.





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  Reply # 1240772 17-Feb-2015 12:35
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Geektastic: What has my privacy got to do with it?

This is not a privacy issue, it's a stupidity issue. The money was going to the USA not Myanmar. Had I not mentioned Myanmar on the comments part of the form, the bank would not have even noticed the transfer.


Oh I agree, it's definitely a stupidity issue. And that's one of the big problems with the whole trawl-everything strategy. Fortunately in your case it's probably just a minor inconvenience; after all, you are probably right that will go straight through if you omit the word 'Myanmar' from the form. But imagine if the instructions to banks was not to just deny the payment, but to report it so they could send the police around for a chat?




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  Reply # 1240778 17-Feb-2015 12:37
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More likely an automated system to meet required anti-money laundering/anti-terror requirements - which are mandated by government.

There was an issue - they rang you about it - you explained.

Don't see an issue. I was pleased when ASB rang me to check that international charges to my CC were to be expected.

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  Reply # 1240779 17-Feb-2015 12:39
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Geektastic:
scuwp: I can empathize with the extra hassle, but on the flip side I would be pleased my bank was taking a proactive stance to protect my money being used fraudulently. Could you not just provide the evidence they requested? A simple email with attachment would have seen the issue promptly dealt with would it not? Molehill>mountain a touch perhaps?


No, because they required that in order to make an application to some body or other for permission for me to spend my money as I wished.

I won't tolerate that.


Then I suggest you store your money in your mattress. Banks have and will always be required to meet legal requirements for monitoring financial transfers - particularly international ones.

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  Reply # 1240785 17-Feb-2015 12:41
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wasabi2k: There was an issue - they rang you about it - you explained.

And they still denied the transfer.

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  Reply # 1240788 17-Feb-2015 12:43
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These are rules they are required to follow  by the Gov't and RBNZ.




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  Reply # 1240825 17-Feb-2015 13:26
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Behodar:
wasabi2k: There was an issue - they rang you about it - you explained.

And they still denied the transfer.


"We understand the payment is going to the US but because it involves Myanmar indirectly, we are still required to get an approval to release the payment. There is blanket ban on payments involving Myanmar at the moment. Would it be possible to get a copy of the invoice please so we can attach it to our approval request form?  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us."

Seems reasonable. Hell the bank is doing the approval form itself..



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  Reply # 1240867 17-Feb-2015 14:26
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But the point is that the second transfer will happen without an issue simply because the word myanmar was deleted. Ergo the transfer does not require any consent as it is the same transfer to the same people in both cases...





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  Reply # 1240871 17-Feb-2015 14:32
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Geektastic: But the point is that the second transfer will happen without an issue simply because the word myanmar was deleted. Ergo the transfer does not require any consent as it is the same transfer to the same people in both cases...


Not necessarily - if their initial statement was correct - that any transfer related to Myanmar needs to be checked - then you are getting around that policy by not stating it on the description. No mention on Myanmar means the transaction is not "suspicious".

Obviously relying on a description field to identify these transactions is sort of like asking criminals to please clearly state when they intend to commit a crime - more than a little bit silly. I am sure there are a number of other mechanisms that identify transactions that are dodgy.

Though your account probably has a flag on it now and you won't be able to transfer anything, anywhere as you have been known to fund terrorists in SEA.

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  Reply # 1240873 17-Feb-2015 14:35
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The point is that you, an innocent person, got sucked into a mess because you inadvertently tripped a government enforced anti-crime/terrorism/whatever rule that a tired/stupid/uncaring/just-wants-to-do-their-job-and-go-home person decided to follow, even though to do so was obviously (to you) unnecessary. You seem OK with such things on general principle. But this time, they applied to you. This is precisely why I am very cautious at giving anyone more power to watch everything I do. It doesn't really work - what crime has just been prevented? - and the consequences to you can be far more serious than mere slight inconvenience.






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  Reply # 1240879 17-Feb-2015 14:44
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Just to add my $0.02 worth; I've worked for a large NZ bank in an IT role both as a permanent staff member and as a contractor.  Regardless of your employee status, and regardless of what job you have, you are REQUIRED to undertake certain compulsory training modules including "Anti-Money Laundering".   After taking the training, you are REQUIRED to SIGN a statement saying you understand the rules, AND WILL FOLLOW THEM.

Failure to do so is a disciplinary offense which would probably lead ultimately to loss of employment.

If any bank wishes to be involved in any financial transactions to the US and/or Europe (and let's face it, most are!) they MUST follow the Anti-Money Laundering rules as dictated by these foreign partners.

NO ALTERNATIVE.

Yes, it seems a little OTT for what the OP was doing, but in this case, rules are rules, there are probably multiple checkpoints, and if anyone "just let it slide", they would probably be having a series of fairly serious meetings with their senior management and HR reps shortly afterwards.

This is the world we live in.

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  Reply # 1240881 17-Feb-2015 14:49
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Is this a bank rule, or an NZ Govt rule, or a rule by a higher International body?   (World Bank, UN etc)   That is more the key to this discussion, who made the rule and why?

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