Is Monzo banning UK residents who are US citizens from the current account?


#1

Hi friends,

Curious if folks have details about this. I have two friends in London, as well as myself, who have US citizenship through parents (one has never even been to the US), who say that despite using Monzo prepaid for a while they were asked a question about citizenship when converting to the current account that denies current accounts to users based on their US citizenship. I am not yet on the current account and don’t believe I’ve been offered one yet, so a few questions. Bear in mind i’m a lifelong UK citizen and have only been to the US once when I was 12:

  1. Is this true or is it one of those misconceptions that often get spread about new companies/ products?

  2. If true, is this even legal? I don’t think you can discriminate against protected classes even if there are additional compliance costs (re: FATCA). National origin is a protected class.

  3. What happens if you just lie anyway? One of them did and says it hasn’t been a problem

Many thanks,

-Adrian


#2

Can’t answer the main question, but to this I can say: Anti discrimination rules are not absolute. If you can justify your rules you can make exceptions. As an example: That’s why the Catholic Church can stipulate that priests must be male, heterosexual, and Christian although sex, sexuality and religion are all “protected characteristics”, and employers wouldn’t usually be allowed to discriminate based on these. (And in fact the Church cannot make the same stipulations for other jobs, e.g. gardeners.)

Thus, if a bank can show that offering its services to a given group of nationals would result in an unreasonable burden being put on it, they may be justified in not offering their services to those nationals. (Ultimately what’s reasonable and what’s justified would be up to a court to decide, and I don’t think any such decision has been made yet. But given that these restrictions are quite common and haven’t - to my knowledge - been challenged, I guess there is a general consensus in the legal profession that this is probably within the law.)

It’s never a good idea to do that. If the bank finds out they may close your account and freeze your assets. They may also sue you, and you may potentially be committing fraud (but I’m no lawyer).


(knows someone who knows Tom quite well) #3

Not sure I’d want the IRS chasing me for deliberately avoiding reporting.


(Sy) #4

Monzo should answer officially but while you can not discriminate against ethinicity financial firms do against citizenship. Large bodies like National Savings & Investments, have decided not to comply with FATCA. Instead they have closed the accounts of US nationals, or refused applications for new accounts. Some investment firms are even refusing accounts for minors.


#5

Just to make this clear: protected characteristics include “race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin” (emphasis mine). Thus, discrimination based on citizenship is not permissible (including by financial firms), unless there is a good reason. (And banks presumably argue that the burden associated with FACTA compliance for US citizens is good reason.)


(knows someone who knows Tom quite well) #6

I think the good reason is that the US authorities are a pain in the arse and their dictats shouldn’t be complied with.


(Sarah) #7

American citizen who’s lived here for 13 years and has had no other issues with banking/mortgages/loans watching very carefully…


(Sy) #8

It is not a matter of lying it is the serious implications for Monzo in fines and withholding tax by the US authorities both thru foreign courts, and internally if Monzo at some point decide to operate in the US or any of it’s territories


(Jason Yue) #9

US citizens have to file for taxes no matter where they are in the world. For example, in China, banks accept account applications from foreigners, but put additional checks/processes in place to deal specifically with US passport-holders (and even US green card holders). In comparison, a British / Canadian citizen living in China would not face such administrative delays since they can update their status with respective home offices to be “non-resident”, and then only pay tax to China. Considering how Monzo’s current account would differ from those offered by traditional high street banks (no chequebook, etc.), it is understandable if they choose not to offer it to US citizens just to reduce administrative costs/complications.


(knows someone who knows Tom quite well) #10

How is it Monzo’s fault if a US citizen lies about their citizenship? How do I prove I’m not a citizen of a given country?


(Sy) #11

it is not the reporting direct to IRS that the issue but the threat of legal actions against a bank or investment firm by US authorities


(Jason Yue) #12

I see. Well, a complication indeed.


#13

Please define protected classes?

Do you mean protected characteristics?

This is a potential offence under Section 2 of The Fraud Act 2006, Fraud by false representation where your friend has knowingly made a false statement in order to gain an advantage for him/herself.


#14

You’re equating citizenship and nationality. I don’t believe they’re actually the same thing. :thinking:


(Sy) #15

Under US law the Bank is responsible for the lie by their customer.

In the Insurance industry there are many cases of US federal and state laws being foisted on UK insurers and if firms fail to comply assets they may have in US can be seized or directors arrested on entry to the country. While working in a Lloyd’s insurance broker they made all the staff sign a form agreeing to comply with some Californian law. The Americans beleive in extraterritorial jurisdiction and think they can enforce their law worldwide. They are treatening trade embargoes if there is widescale noncompliance with certain laws and the possibility of trade tribunals that can fine the UK Government and overrule our courts. No wonder banks want to stear clear.


#16

Those Americans, eh! :roll_eyes:


(knows someone who knows Tom quite well) #17

Not just banks. I turned down a green card.


#18

Hm. The British government doesn’t seem to think so:

https://www.gov.uk/types-of-british-nationality

The whole page is concerned with the legal concept (which I think is what you would’ve termed “citizenship”), but uses the term “nationality”. (At least that’s how I understand the page.)


#19

If you read it, they talk about citizenship or nationality.

According to the interweb (cos you can believe everything there, right?) nationality is an ethnic or racial concept; citizenship is a legal or juristic concept.


#20

I accept that this is the generally accepted definition. However, the British government seems to use a different definition:

They state that British citizenship is a type of British nationality. Now, let’s take my own example: I will never be a British national (by the generally accepted definition) as I was born “on the continent”, and am ethnically and racially non-British. However, I will (hopefully) soon be British citizen, and according to the British government then a “type of British national”. Thus, the British government doesn’t seem to distinguish between the two.

Either way: According to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission:

The Equality Act 2010 says you must not be discriminated against because of your race.
In the Equality Act race can mean your colour, or your nationality (including your citizenship)