Sent via email (since, I’ve updated the latest bank situation in this post)
Dear staff of Congressman Vern Buchanan,
I’m a middle class American citizen and US veteran registered to vote in your district, who has been living abroad in Switzerland since 2001. I moved to Switzerland to escape unemployment in the US during the Dot-Com crisis. In 2006, I was lucky enough to be able to get a mortgage to finance a condo which will need to be refinanced in February next year.
In the last few months, the situation here has deteriorated dramatically. Several weeks ago, I walked from one bank to the next only to be told that they will not refinance my mortgage simply because I am a US citizen, even though I am also a Swiss citizen. GE Moneybank, an American bank, also stated that I may not open an account with them simply because I am an American. Currently, the following banks have informed me that they will not refinance the mortgages of Swiss-US dual citizens in Switzerland:
- GE Money Bank (US bank. Doesn’t finance mortgages but refuses to provide banking services to Americans)
- Raiffeisen (might finance Swiss citizens who live in the States)
- Bank Coop
- AXA Bank
- Migros Bank (unless the minimum account balance is $250’000 or the mortgage is above $700’000)
- Valiant Bank AG
- Rothschild Bank AG (probably not, but unsure)
- SwissLife (investment products, mortgages)
- Hypothekarbank Lenzburg (see signature on every web page)
- Swissquote Bank
- FinanzZentrum Jungfrau AG
- Vontobel (Doesn’t finance mortgages, but US persons are prohibited from accessing the web page)
- Bank Sarasin, finances under the condition that the mortgage is matched with assets (US persons are prohibited from accessing the web page)
- Julius Baer (refuses to provide financial services to US citizens, but may refinance a mortgage for dual citizens with a minimum investment of 500’000)
- Zuger Cantonal Bank
The following banks have not yet decided if they will finance the mortages of Swiss-US dual citizens in Switzerland:
- Bank Thalwil (as of 28.08.2012, but US persons are prohibited from visiting their web site)
- Bank Linth (conditional, but their web site states that investments and other transactions are not for US persons)
- Alpha Rheintal Bank AG (only accepts regional customers, including maybe US persons)
The following banks have stated that they will still provide some services to Swiss-US dual citizens, for now, but many refuse to provide banking services to American citizens in Switzerland:
- Basler Cantonal Bank (refuses to provide financial services to US citizens)
- Vaud Cantonal Bank (waives foreign account fees for Swiss citizens living or working abroad)
- Aargauische Cantonal Bank (closing the accounts of US persons)
- St. Galler Cantonal Bank (closing the accounts of US residents)
- Zürcher Cantonal Bank (does not finance mortgages for Swiss citizens who live in the US)
- Credit Suisse (refuses to provide financial services to US citizens)
- Hyposwiss Privatbank (As long as W9 is completed)
- UBS (Baden branch, but American citizens are being denied banking services)
- Postfinance (does not provide credit to Swiss citizens living in America). It’s partners, Valiant and Münchener Hypothekenbank don’t want US persons.
- SwissLife (insurances)
- AMFIE (according to CERN)
- Credit Mutuel in St. Genis-Pouilly (according to CERN)
- VP Bank (Lichtenstein, will have cut all ties to US customers by the end of 2012 but will finance mortgages for dual citizens if they invest around 50+k)
I have written my representation in the States on this issue, but they did not respond and took no action. I feel terribly unrepresented. Obama, Romney, Senator Bill Nelson and Vern Buchanon ignored the situation and took no action. Yet, the cause of the situation is US policy. Swiss banks are responding to US pressure.
In the United States, it is a federal crime to deny a person a mortgage based on their national origin, and yet the US government is pressuring banks to deny American citizens mortgages simply because they are US persons. I created a complaint with HUD on housing discrimination, but HUD deleted my complaint (see attachment). I called the Veterans Administration but was told that they do not help veterans who live overseas.
Yet, I’m not the only American citizen who is suffering from US policy. The US embassy in Bern stated that I was one of the lucky few who still has a bank account. I am in contact with two other American citizens who are being denied by banks the ability to refinance their mortgage. This problem is not only limited to Switzerland and is likely only going to get worse around the world.
I’ve blogged the letters to my representation and summarized the responses here: https://expatami.wordpress.com/
Americans abroad have been fighting to improve the situation for decades, but the situation has only grown worse. Since my representation has not responded, I am not going to wait for my representation to do nothing. Thus, I am working my way up my chain of representation to request a letter of recommendation to renounce my US citizenship. Sadly, this is the least that I can request, the most that America is willing to provide its citizens living abroad and it is the only way that I can ensure that my mortgage will be refinanced in February.
Was informed on the 4th of September that the matter would be discussed, but heard nothing since.