Bank limits on cash deposits ‘are hurting legitimate businesses’

Photo: Geldmaat
Photo: Geldmaat

Dutch banks have been criticised for restricting cas deposits for businesses as part of anti-money laundering regulations.

Small and mid-sized companies have had limits placed on the amount of cash they can pay in or been banned from depositing coins and notes altogether. The government also wants to ban the €500 note and put a €3,000 ceiling on cash payments.

Yvonne Willemsen of the Dutch banking association NVB told the Financieele Dagblad society wanted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards money laundering. ‘There is a connection between criminality and large sums of cash. Banks don’t want to get involved in that.’

Banks risk heavy fines and prosecution if they fail to take steps to prevent money laundering and check cash transactions, but lawyers representing sectors such agriculture, textiles and the motor trade say some of the restrictions go too far.

‘The automatic perception is that anyone who uses cash is a crook, even though it’s a legal form of payment,’ lawyer Jan Michiel Wagenaar told the newspaper. ‘The purpose of the law is not to ban cash.’

He said some traders, such as scrap metal merchants, have problems operating in countries such as Germany, where digital transactions are less common. ‘If they don’t pay cash, they can’t take the metal,’ he said.

Marco Anink, of law form RWV Advocaten, said the rules were having a ‘devastating effect’ on small and medium-sized businesses.

‘It’s logical that banks ask where €500 notes come from, but the measures they are taking often go far further than the law requires,’ he said.

The Dutch central bank DNB has also urged banks not to impose limits or charges that deter people from using cash. It followed Rabobank’s announcement last July that it would charge 75 cents for every cash withdrawal not taken from its own ATMs or the yellow Geldmaat machines.

‘It’s up to individual banks to set their tariffs, but it should be done in a form that does not specifically hit cash users,’ the central bank said in a letter to outgoing finance minister Wopke Hoekstra. It called on the banks to agree rules for handling cash payments in a covenant.

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