Legal Updates

False representations in the ‘Know Your Customer’ form justifies blocking a bank account

December 26, 2020

A bank abruptly blocked a customer's bank account once it was discovered that the account was used for trading in virtual currencies (such as Bitcoin( without a proper license and in contradiction to the statement made by the customer when opening the account and filling out the "Know Your Customer" form.
The Court held that closing an account due to false representations submitted to the bank is reasonable and should not be interfered with. Reasonable conduct on the part of the bank requires sending a written notice of intent to block the account and allowing the client to correct its ways, but in this case the customer misrepresented and concealed from the bank the actual activity it intends to perform in the account, intentionally, as other banks already refused to allow similar activity in an account. Under these circumstances, the bank's refusal to allow activity in the account, which is contrary to the purpose of the activity as stated at the time of its opening and to the extent of the activity, which significantly increased the bank's risk and exposure to breach of its regulatory obligations under money laundering regulations, is a reasonable refusal. However, blocking the account on one fine day without a prior written notice is a problematic conduct of the bank and therefore, even though the claim was denied, no expenses were awarded in favor of the bank.