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What would you do if your bank froze your account without warning?

3 min read

What happens when banks decide to freeze ordinary people’s accounts without any warning? It couldn’t happen to law abiding citizens who earn an honest living, could it? It can and it did. Three of the biggest Spanish banks BBVA, Caixabank and Bankia froze thousands of accounts belonging to Chinese customers who weren’t even Chinese citizens but Spanish citizens. This went on for two weeks with some people reporting that they had to wait 3 months to get their money out of the bank. This was done under the anti-money laundering laws which were tightened in 2017 when news broke that some Spanish banks had helped launder money from Chinese criminal gangs.

The reason seems plausible but the way the whole thing was done smacks of racial profiling since the only customers that were affected were Chinese who had nothing to do with money laundering. The worst thing is that these banks did not have the courtesy to let their customers know. People found out when they tried to use their cards to pay for things and withdraw cash. What would you do if you tried to get some money from your bank account only to find that the funds are frozen?  Well, hundreds of Chinese bank customers did something that Chinese people aren’t normally expected to do, march in the streets in protest.

This shows how even the banking system cannot be trusted. What if you were one of those people and you had an emergency that required cash? If you couldn’t access your money for weeks, how would you survive? What would you eat and how would you continue to get to work? This is why people are always urged to never put their eggs in one basket. It is Alsop probably the reason why a lot of Asian people still believe in having gold around because in a crisis you can always sell bullion for cash.

Governments and economic systems can collapse without warning. Take Iran, for instance. For years the country has been working hard to get up from the effects of the sanctions the US had imposed prior to the Iran nuclear deal. Things looked promising until President Donald Trump decided that the US needed to pull out of the Iran deal. Iranians like Indians and Chinese value gold. It is part of the fabric of their societies. So, when Trump’s decision began to erode the economy and weaken the currency, Iranians turned to gold. In Iran you could sell bullion for cash or simply use it to do transactions and even pay your rent.

When European countries like Greece started having currency problems, people started bartering what they didn’t need to get what they needed. In 2010, Greece’s banking system was in such a crisis that the government put restrictions on the amount of cash that could be withdrawn on a daily basis. Bartering spread across other countries like Spain which was on the verge of economic collapse because of its growing debt. However, people who had gold had a better chance of weathering the crisis because they could sell their gold for cash.