The securing of the legal right of residents of the six Dutch Caribbean islands to have a current account at a bank in the Netherlands is a step closer with the submitting of a law proposal to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
On Wednesday, Member of the Second Chamber Joost Sneller of the Democratic Party D66 submitted an initiative law proposal which secures the right of every Dutch citizen to have a basic account at a Dutch bank, no matter where they live.
Law on Financial Supervision to include the right to a basic current account for Dutch citizens outside the European Union (EU) is good news for residents with Dutch nationality in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and in countries elsewhere in the world.
The reason for initiating this law proposal was the (announced) closing of accounts by Dutch banks of people residing outside the Netherlands. Thousands of Dutch nationals abroad, including in the Dutch Caribbean, protested loudly against this unilateral decision of some Dutch banks, of which they were informed by letter.
“In society today, having a basic current account is a condition in order to participate. In the past years, Dutch banks increasingly unilaterally annulled bank accounts of Dutch citizens residing outside the European Union, with adverse and sometimes dangerous consequences for these people, for example, in the case of debtors,” stated Member of Parliament (MP) Sneller in the Explanatory Note.
Through this law proposal, two groups of Dutch nationals outside the EU have to be assisted, Sneller explained: first, those whose Dutch bank account was closed and second, those who plan to live abroad or already reside elsewhere. There are a few conditions to open and keep a Dutch bank account. One is that the bank carries out a client assessment to prevent money laundering. The bank may refuse to open/ maintain an account based on five grounds, including when the (future) account holder cannot prove the importance of having a Dutch bank account, and when the person in question has a criminal record or an account at another Dutch bank.
A bank account can be terminated if no transactions have taken place in two years. The bank may levy a higher (monthly) fee for Dutch nationals abroad, as long as this is reasonable. The law proposal provides for a maximum of double the tariffs for people living in the Netherlands.
It is not entirely clear how many people with Dutch nationality reside abroad, but it concerns several hundred thousand people. Dutch nationals residing abroad often still feel Dutch, they have a connection with the Netherlands and visit the Netherlands for vacation and/or family reasons.
The Dutch government needs to keep an eye on the interests of this group, stated Sneller. That a Dutch bank account is considered a way of keeping connected with the Netherlands was confirmed by the hundreds of reactions from Dutch citizens outside the EU to Sneller’s law proposal.
Former Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra also gave two reasons Dutch people outside the EU like to have a Dutch bank account: it makes contact with private and public institutions and/or persons easier, and keeps money safe since the Dutch financial sector is deemed to be relatively safe.
The Daily Herald.