My Trust bank account, which has been in existence for 16 years, is under scrutiny from the BNZ. They claim to need all my ID information in quadruplicate, and they claim they do not have copy of the original Trust deed. This cannot be true, of course. They must have had a copy of the deed to open the account. By the time they requested to sight the original Trust deed, I was in the South Island and the deed was in Wellington. I asked for more time to provide the information required, and was turned down.

What the hell do I do now? I am facing the prospect of having the account closed because I could not meet their time frame – a time frame that they impose and yet they have been draining it away by taking up to a week to send the next request for information.

The answer was, of course, the lawyer. Once again, I have used the same lawyer for decades. He set up the Trust. He doesn’t have the original deed, but being a lawyer, he can verify one of his file copies, and that would work – surely?

It worked. But not before I had gone back to the BNZ to express my frustration at their refusal to give me more time.

Here was their reply.

Please note that at this point in time we are unable to extend the timeframe set for when the requested identification and information documents are to be provided to BNZ until August. However, given your current circumstance and the new information provided by your solicitor, and given that more information is now required, the new timeframe for providing BNZ with the requested information and documentation has now been extended until 30 June 2022. Please note that this temporary extension period will only apply until 30 June 2022, where at which point the requested documents must be provided to BNZ. Please kindly note that if the respective documents and information are not provided to BNZ by 30 June 2022, the Trust accounts may be blocked, and your access to these accounts may be restricted.

BNZ

Kindly?

At this point, I was required to fill out 2 forms – one an authority to operate the account (which, again, I must have filled out when the account was opened) and one about the ‘nature and purpose’ of the account. The latter form asks questions about whether or not you expect to receive deposits from overseas, large amounts of cash or deposits in foreign currencies.

The answer to all of which was a resounding ‘No’.

Nevertheless, the next question was this:

As the Trust Deed has the listed individual(s) as named Beneficiaries, we must confirm the following to determine if we need additional information for the Beneficiaries. 

·       Are any of the named Beneficiaries allocated a distribution of 25% or more? 

·       Are distributions yet to be determined?  

·       Have any of the named Beneficiaries received distribution from the Trust of 25% or more as 08/09/2006 (date to be time of onboarding)? 

BNZ

Why do they need to know if there were any distributions made before the Trust was settled, 16 years ago? The AML rules didn’t exist then. The account didn’t exist then either. If this had been a resettlement of a previous Trust (which is wasn’t), what has that got to do with the BNZ in 2022?

Why does it matter anyway? The beneficiaries – myself and my son – are named, not some shadowy figures hiding in a corner somewhere. Everything is above board. It was becoming harder and harder to remember that I wasn’t doing anything wrong here.

By now, the emails were coming daily. Here is an extract from the next one:

To further explain the 30 day notice/time period, We receive OCDD review request directly from government authorities and it is a regulatory requirement nothing personal. Any different entities might be due for the review from time to time either indicating information mismatching the records or periodical review . The regulatory requirement is changing as well. The rule of thumb is when bank receive such request from the government agency we are legally required to perform the review to make sure the profile meets current standard & requirement. We ourselves have a timeframe to meet our legal requirements and obligations hence why we have to provide a timeframe for our customers to provide documents.

BNZ

Government authorities? Which government authorities? This is not a trading trust. It owns the family home. Nothing more. Why would any government agency be interested in it?

The customer’s circumstances are not taken into account, of course. I could have been overseas, in hospital or otherwise indisposed and I would have come back to find my account suspended or closed altogether. Oh, and I forgot to mention that, although I had apparently provided all the ID information required for myself, the whole miserable process started all over again for the other trustees – my son and the lawyer, who is an independent trustee. They were both required to fill out the ‘Authority to Operate an Account’ form, even though neither of them has access to the Trust bank account. The whole thing is ridiculous. But by this time, the lawyer had gone on holiday for a week and my son was already overseas.

As you can see, this is not going well…

To be continued

Christie

Ex-pat from the north of England, living in NZ since the 1980s, I consider myself a Kiwi through and through, but sometimes, particularly at the moment with Brexit, I hear the call from home. I believe...