This article first appeared in El Cronista on June 24, 2021.
The massive closure suffered by Argentines who have investment accounts opened in Uruguay and the United States has become, in these days, a new focus of concern.
There are many entities that have taken the decision to ask for a documentary counterpart to justify each deposit of money. Otherwise, they can close the account.
There are cases such as Wells Fargo, which decided to stop serving foreign clients in its investment banking, as a Compliance measure after a fraud case for which it had to pay huge fines.
In the opinion of Mariano Sardáns, CEO of FDI, the problem is that Argentina, along with Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, among others, is in the sights of the banks themselves, whose residents they prefer to avoid in order not to have contingencies with money coming from complex crimes, such as drug trafficking and corruption.
“Everything they do must have economic reality, which means it must have to do with their income or because they sold some asset,” he says.
Rafael Di Giorno, from Proficio, points out that in the past it was easier to have accounts abroad at zero cost: “Nowadays, in some banks, especially in those based in Uruguay, they charge a maintenance fee of u$s 150 per month, which is only discounted in accounts that exceed a certain amount, such as u$s 100,000”.
Those who are closing more accounts are the largest international banks, which have a presence in Uruguay and the United States.
These entities are more demanding with the origin of each of the funds credited. On the other hand, in the smaller banks in Miami it is easier to go unnoticed.
Daniela Wechselblatt, founder of DW Global Investments, points out that Wells Fargo decided not to attend any more investment accounts to foreign clients because of the risk it causes them at the Compliance level.
“They evaluate the risk versus return, so they prefer not to do it, while the other big ones, such as Citi, JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch are raising the minimums to u$s 1 million, u$s 2 million or u$s 5 million”, she explains.
“Financial entities change the rules of the game from one day to the next because they change the commercial strategy, and suddenly close your bank account, which you use for your business. They see that a market has small accounts and low profitability, so they leave”, warns Sardáns.
This happens because banks run the risk of very high fines, so Compliance advises them to get rid of clients belonging to countries that are in risk areas.
For large entities, having Argentine accounts represents a relatively small and very risky business, due to the contingency of receiving multimillionaire fines from regulators in case it is proved that the money came from corruption.
In fact, Sardáns comments that in Uruguay they tend to close Argentine bank accounts because there are clients who go there, deposit and then withdraw cash.