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The Bank Is Stalking You for Getting Politicized


Banks block accounts if you do not admit your political ambitions



Ivaylo Mirchev  to " The BANKER":


Mr. Mirchev, is your drama with the bank over?

"Yes, it's over. Its boss Teodora Petkova called me personally to apologize.

(Editor's note - Tedora Petkova is Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of UniCredit Bulbank).

What offended you so much?

- This is an injustice. My accounts were blocked without any guilt. It's normal to be warned beforehand, isn't it.

Are you sure you haven't been invited to the bank before?

- No, in no way - not by phone, by text message or in any other way. That is exactly what is unfair. I was at the bank for another issue and after they hadn’t told me anything I was left without active accounts 20 minutes later.

How long have you been blocked from operations?

For about a week.

"My story with Bulbank:  On 27.10 I visit the branch of the bank that serves Pro Smart. Minutes later, my company account is blocked and the bank refuses any access to it. The reason - Bulbank found out that I was part of a political party

It was a "shocking" discovery for me that the bank blocked the available funds without any explanations, without an adequate reaction for our access to them to be quickly restored. “That was written days ago on Facebook by Ivaylo Mirchev.

Five days later, I still have no access, and Bulbank is transferring responsibility between individual employees, he added. "The bank refuses all cooperation and justifies that the official responsible for Pro Smart has been in hospital for 3 months and this is the reason why we have not been informed that we need to declare positions in political parties", Mirchev wrote.

It is startling when a bank dares to do something like this, after its own mistake. Moreover, we are talking about a technology company with a perfect credit history, working almost entirely with foreign partners, Mirchev resents. The damage we have been suffering for five days is an inability to make payments, to receive remittances... Part of our activity is practically pinned down (e.g. we cannot order components for Internet thermostats in Pro Smart to produce them), he protests.

It turns out that the case is not isolated, but other companies have been the subject of similar unkind threats from employees. Unfortunately they, for one reason or another do not give publicity to what has happened.

There are misunderstandings in other banks as well.

"My bank made me declare membership in a political party when I changed my debit card 2 years ago," our regular reader complains.

Other customers were threatened with closure of their bank accounts because their data had not been updated in the last year. The customer is asked to give personal info even without knowing that the person calling is indeed an employee of the bank.

Who is Ivaylo Mirchev?

Ivaylo Mirchev is one of the IT entrepreneurs entering Bulgarian politics, a member of the executive board of "Yes, Bulgaria!" and candidate for Member of Parliament in the parliamentary elections (2017) in Dobrich and 24 Constituency- Sofia. He is the founder and manager of a company for the development of innovative devices for home management through the Internet.

Ignorance of the law does not justify the ignorant,

the Romans said. The latest "edition" of "MEASURES TO PREVENT THE USE OF THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM FOR THE PURPOSES OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING" is in force as of 31.03.2018. They are a consequence of the operation of international directives in relation to the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Politically affiliates are classified as risky under the law. That is - the "thin red line" in the Mirchev case leads to the normative postulate that each legal entity is linked to all natural persons relevant to the ownership and/or management. Banks, on the other hand, are threatened with very high penalties for non-compliance.

So the bank is obliged to act according to the legal requirements, it has no alternative. Moreover, the initiative to inform about political affiliation belongs to the client, it is their obligation to go to the bank and fill out a special declaration. It is not the bank that invites its clients to do that, as is the case in practice. Those who hired employees lacking good manners should be held responsible.

UniCredit Bulbank declined to comment

on their relationship with the customer. Most likely, the employees have established that Mirchev has not filled in a declaration under Article 42, paragraph 2, item 2 of the AMLA - whether he is a person being the so-called "Senior government official". Such individuals are viewed by banks in Bulgaria with a higher risk of money laundering, which according to their internal rules most often means that they will monitor their activities with caution.

As for blocking accounts

– this is done by all banks, a "The BANKER" checkup showed. Some vaults even use "blocking" as a "yellow card" and then take out the "red" one and close the accounts.

A periodic update of customer data is required by the financial institutions according to European and national legislation related to anti-money laundering legislation. The banks received these new obligations under the law - to make the so-called "due diligence", two years ago. For persons who are defined as PEPs (politically exposed persons) under local and European law, (called "prominent political figures” under BG law), the checks must be expanded.

As for the delayed reaction of the bank in the Mirchev case, it acknowledged that a select staff works as a result of the measures against the pandemic and do not exclude that problems in quality and speed of service may have occurred as a result.

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