US Bank Denying Americans Services for being “US Persons”

I called GE Money Bank AG today and was informed that they do not provide banking services to Swiss citizens in Switzerland who are considered to be “US Persons”.  GE Money Bank is a division of GE Capital which is a unit of General Electric, “an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States”.[1]

You are hereby confirming that you are a non-US person, i.e. that you are not a US citizen (sole, double or multiple nationality), that you do not possess resident alien status (for example because you are in possession of a Green Card or because you have regularly resided in the USA in the current year and the previous two years) and that in accordance with the provisions of US tax law you are the beneficial owner of the assets held by you and of the income generated by those assets. Insofar as a double taxation treaty exists between the USA and your country of domicile as a client, the bank will in principle accord you, as our client, a reduction of the US withholding taxes on income from US sources. In such a case, the bank is entitled to ask you to produce additional documentation.
GE Money Bank Savings (see info button to the right of “confirm that I am a non-US person.”)

Other banks that I have called so far who refuse to provide banking services to Swiss citizens in Switzerland considered as being “US Persons” are:

  • Raiffeisen
  • Bank Coop
  • AXA Bank
  • Migros Bank (unless the minimum account balance is $250’000 or the mortgage is above $700’000)
  • NAB
  • Valiant Bank AG
  • Rothschild Bank AG (probably not, but unsure)
  • SwissLife (probably not, but unsure and also word of mouth)

Banks which provide Swiss citizens in Switzerland banking services regardless of the fact that they are considered as being “US Persons” are:

  • Basler Kantonalbank
  • Credit Suisse AG
  • Hyposwiss Privatbank AG (As long as W9 is completed)
  • UBS (Baden branch)
  • Postfinance (word of mouth)

Those denying banking services to Swiss citizens have no official statement of such.  They are acting upon recent internal instructions which they will not release to the public.  I was told that SwissLife has an official statement on the matter, and I found one on a mortgage application:

The customer is not a “US-Person”.  That means, he/she is not a US citizen (single, double or multiple citizenship), that he doesn’t have the status of being a foreign resident (“resident alien”) , has (for example the possession of a “Green Card” or any regular stay in the USA in the current year or last two years).
SwissLife Mortgage Application

Both the US embassy in Bern and the Swiss Department of Finance stated that the action taken by the banks is legal and advised one to communicate the matter with US representation.  After being informed that US politicians are not responding to Americans abroad, the US embassy in Bern recommended contacting the ACA lobby.

The US government writes that it is a federal crime to deny a US person a mortgage because of their national origin, and yet the US government is forcing this federal crime upon US citizens as a result of citizenship-based taxation.

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