UK expats encouraged to complain about treatment by UK banks

Published:  21 Aug at 6 PM
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British citizens living overseas are being urged to complain to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about unfair treatment by onshore UK banks.

The controversy over the treatment of UK expats by onshore banks is ratcheting up after calls to report offenders to the UK authorities. A majority of expats working or retiring overseas have kept their former UK bank accounts to facilitate transfers of pensions and other payments to bank accounts in their countries of residence.

Although UK state pensions are able to be paid into foreign bank accounts, most companies providing occupational pensions will only pay into UK-based accounts. Should an expat’s UK account be closed, he or she would have no access to private pension payments, nor be able to transfer cash overseas when needed.

Problems also occur when UK account holders living overseas attempt to switch their funds to accounts with higher interest rates offered by other UK banks. Expats in this position are faced with either opening an offshore bank account or a possibly less secure account in their country of residence.

Although Britain’s high street banks have traditionally allowed long-term customers living abroad to hold their accounts, the trend seems to be moving towards the banks’ official position. This states that banking services are exclusively available to UK-based customers, with the risk of money laundering given as an excuse to close expat-held accounts and refuse new applications.

Warwick Gibbons, a UK pensioner living on Crete, has brought his dilemma into the public domain via an expat forum. He has financial ties to the UK and receives three private pensions as well as his state pension.

Without access to his private pensions, his lifestyle would be severely affected and he may be forced to return to the UK. He is urging UK expats in the same situation to complain to the CMA, adding that they should also spread the news on expat forums in all popular expat retiree destinations.
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