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  #21  
Old 04.05.2012, 22:05
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Yes, I was wondering that too, biff. If they live in the US, why would they want a bank account in Switzerland, pay in $3,000 and just leave it sitting there?

Was it even a dollar bank account? Can you have one of those in Switzerland? I know they do Euros as well as the CHF, but do they open bank accounts in other currencies? If not, then presumably the dollars were converted into Francs on receipt and given the slide in the exchange rate I'd be surprised if it was worth $3,000 today.

The original post never said the actual amount deposited into the account, only that they CHARGED him $3000 by directly withdrawing that amount from said account.
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  #22  
Old 04.05.2012, 22:09
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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The original post never said the actual amount deposited into the account, only that they CHARGED him $3000 by directly withdrawing that amount from said account.
Quite right. 3000 was for the charges on the account. I suspect that was a small percentage of the total amount deposited. Mother seems to be busy with bank accounts and insurances all day ........ wish I earned enough to be kept busy with my finances all day.
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Old 04.05.2012, 22:53
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Yes, I was wondering that too, biff. If they live in the US, why would they want a bank account in Switzerland, pay in $3,000 and just leave it sitting there?

Was it even a dollar bank account? Can you have one of those in Switzerland? I know they do Euros as well as the CHF, but do they open bank accounts in other currencies? If not, then presumably the dollars were converted into Francs on receipt and given the slide in the exchange rate I'd be surprised if it was worth $3,000 today.
USD Accounts are very normal in CH, they generally don't pay interest & have high charges. They are discreat & are providing a service.
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Old 04.05.2012, 22:55
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Was it even a dollar bank account? Can you have one of those in Switzerland?
Yes, you can have one no problem.

Tom
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  #25  
Old 04.05.2012, 23:14
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

Looks like he had put only half of the story.
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  #26  
Old 05.05.2012, 11:15
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

Based on some of your responses let me clarify a couple things:

1– My family is not wealthy, not even close. The amount in question ($2,000-$4,000) is a relatively large sum of money for us. I work 50-60 hours per week, and it takes me a full month to make that kind of money. That means I have to work over 200 hours just to recover these lost funds. My father still works even though he’s almost 70 years old. My mother is approaching 60 and works. In addition, the value of our account was very low compared to the typical Swiss bank account - In fact, we lost over 10% of our account because of the sudden withdrawal. However, this is not about being wealthy or not; I am entitled to that money because of the bank’s negligence to inform me of policy changes.

2 – We did not put money into a Swiss account to avoid taxes. We wrote a check to the Swiss bank, everything was declared, everything was legal.

Now back to the thread…

Let me mention something I didn’t include in my first post: Our account was a money market account. I don’t know if that makes a difference. But the institution which holds our money market account is definitely a bank.

Also: There is a text included in each bank statement under the heading “Important Legal Information”. Part of the text reads, “The statement is not signed and can be subject to change or correction. Please check this statement and, in case of disagreement, notify us in writing within thirty days. In the absence of notification within this time limit, the statement is deemed to be accepted. Please also refer to General Terms and Conditions.” This seems like bad news for me; But under the General Terms and Conditions it states under numerous articles that the only exception to these rules is, “with the exception of cases of fraud or serious offense by the Bank”. In my view, Serious Offense includes taking thousands of dollars from my account without warning and without an option to avoid the charges ahead of time, therefore my situation is an exception to their provisions.



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The bank's liaison - does he work one of the bank's offices in the US or is he only a referral guy.

He worked for the bank within the United States at the time he opened our account. I just found out that 2 years ago he stopped working at the bank, but still has personal relationships with many employees as well as with managers/owners. The bank rep actually called him immediately after speaking to me, and I know this because she called me by accident and said she had the wrong number. Literally 5 minutes later the (former) liaison told us the bank would reimburse $2,000. I guess he was doing us a personal favor. However, I don’t want any favors, especially from someone who isn’t currently employed by the institution. Their quick offer of $2,000 also shows they realized they committed an error - Or else why on earth would they want to give me $2,000? To do me a favor? There are no favors, they know they committed a mistake and are trying to cover it up.



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She is right - if the bank is not registered in the US it cannot solicit clients on US soil.

They sent us bank statements every quarter, which is a form of communication. So does that mean they were violating their own laws by sending me a bank statement? That doesn’t make sense, there is no law preventing a bank from contacting their client in another country, especially when it regards something that will negatively affect the account. That’s a breach of fiduciary responsibility towards my account. The bank rep even told me that even if I brought the issue up months ago, they still would not be able to reimburse the full withdrawal amount. What the hell?




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Do you receive statements straight from the bank (with Swiss postage) or from your liaison?

It comes straight from the bank with Swiss postage.



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3. Write a formal letter to the bank's CEO, request a refund of your remaining $1k, and state that if he does not reply within 10 days, you will file a complaint with the IRS and ask that his bank be removed from the IRS' list of "Participating FFI's" because of the bank's fraudulent conduct. Point out that if the IRS does remove his bank from that list, all interest it earns on US securities will be subject to a 30% withholding. Now, neither you nor I nor the bank president knows if the IRS will do that....but it just might. Does he wish to take the chance?

Now THAT is a useful piece of information, jwalker. Your entire post was very helpful. I have an additional question... besides the $3,000 withdrawal, there were subsequent quarterly charges which total around $1,000. Am I also entitled to the subsequent charges of $1,000? Afterall, the bank never provided anything in writing at any point, and I think its irrelevant that we waited a few months to close the account because it was the bank's negligence in the first place. So aside from the initial $3,000 withdrawal, do you think I am entitled to the subsequent $1,000 charges ($4,000 total)?
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  #27  
Old 05.05.2012, 12:31
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Let me mention something I didn’t include in my first post: Our account was a money market account. I don’t know if that makes a difference.


It doesn't.


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He worked for the bank within the United States at the time he opened our account.



Clarify. Did the bank have offices in the US?

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They sent us bank statements every quarter, which is a form of communication. So does that mean they were violating their own laws by sending me a bank statement?


No.

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That doesn’t make sense, there is no law preventing a bank from contacting their client in another country, especially when it regards something that will negatively affect the account.
No law that you know of however any financial institution must be registered with either the SEC or the state (depending on AuM) where it provides financial services. If it is not registered then there is indeed a law preventing it to contact clients in the US.

You should really stop throwing "dereliction of fiduciary duty" around - it only does you a disservice. IF you were to look closely in the account T&Cs you'll see that the bank reserves the right not to contact you in certain conditions...

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It comes straight from the bank with Swiss postage.
Do you still have an envelope and if so can you provide a scan of the stamp.
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  #28  
Old 05.05.2012, 13:53
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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T

3. Write a formal letter to the bank's CEO, request a refund of your remaining $1k, and state that if he does not reply within 10 days, you will file a complaint with the IRS and ask that his bank be removed from the IRS' list of "Participating FFI's" because of the bank's fraudulent conduct. Point out that if the IRS does remove his bank from that list, all interest it earns on US securities will be subject to a 30% withholding. Now, neither you nor I nor the bank president knows if the IRS will do that....but it just might. Does he wish to take the chance?[
Bollox. The FFI list is compiled by Treasury not the IRS, to begin with. As far as can be proven there has been no fraudulent conduct. Membership of FFI list is driven by US accounts' identification (which we suppose the bank has done as supposedly the account was declared). The IRS has no jurisdiction over commercial disputes.
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Old 05.05.2012, 15:04
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Yes, I was wondering that too, biff. If they live in the US, why would they want a bank account in Switzerland, pay in $3,000 and just leave it sitting there?

Was it even a dollar bank account? Can you have one of those in Switzerland? I know they do Euros as well as the CHF, but do they open bank accounts in other currencies? If not, then presumably the dollars were converted into Francs on receipt and given the slide in the exchange rate I'd be surprised if it was worth $3,000 today.
One can have accounts at major Swiss banks in USD, EUR, GBP and probably other currencies as well, besides CHF. My online statement shows such accounts (with zero, or almost zero, balances because I have received remittances in those currencies and delayed converting them in the past.

Most nonresident foreigners I know with accounts in Switzerland have a local address for mail; with the exception of mortgage holders most nonresident Americans I know had their accounts closed by the bank. And those with outstanding mortgage offers found the offer withdrawn in 2010.

Some Swiss banks charge fees (Crédit Suisse charge CHF 10 per month) for anyone who is not domiciled (i.e. registered with a commune) in Switzerland. Since one of my mortgages is with them I protested (I have delayed registering with my commune of residence because I have worldwide health insurance elsewhere, and because it doesn't provide Etablissement Médico-Social cover my canton won't accept it) and their response was to set up a special feeder savings account without charges so long as the balance remains under 10,000 CHF [sic]. Banks are said to levy hefty charges for "no mail" accounts, but what would be the point of that if you are declaring your account to your country's tax authorities?

Also, I have online access to all my bank accounts in several banks. This was true even when I was resident abroad. Although there are other access systems (a PIN grille, SecurID ...) many or most banks also offer access via a one-time 6-digit PIN sent to the customer via a Swiss (only) cell phone with each logon attempt. My phone is a prepay NATEL and it works fine for receiving such SMS messages, in Switzerland and out.

If you feel terribly aggrieved the answer is a suit in small claims court in the US, or a debt recovery action in the home commune of your bank. I've brought small claims actions in a number of countries and I have to say the Swiss system is the most cumbersome. I have been in court twice in my life in Switzerland, once in Basel Stadt and once in Frauenfeld. Both times I had to get by with my schoolboy German: with the other party and with the magistrate. And both times I won my case (traffic court the first time, Betriebungsamt suing a major Swiss contractor the second). I would have thought that at least in Basel they'd speak French, but no. (Because I am Swiss they let me know as well that they were doing me a favor allowing me to speak German and not Swiss-German.)
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Old 05.05.2012, 16:14
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Bollox. The FFI list is compiled by Treasury not the IRS, to begin with.
Wrong. It is the IRS which processes FFI applications. From IRS Notice 2011-53: "The IRS will begin accepting FFI applications.... Because of the time needed for the IRS to process FFI applications......" (Incidentally, in case this is new to you, the IRS is a part of the US Dept of the Treasury, so when tax-related info is sent to a Treasury address -- e.g. the FBAR forms -- it is copied to the IRS.)

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As far as can be proven there has been no fraudulent conduct.
Perhaps not in CH, but that is more a comment on CH than anything else. In the US, the fraudulent conduct is obvious, per the OP's recited facts: the bank provides a fee schedule, changes that fee schedule to add quite substantial fees, but does not tell the client in advance.

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Membership of FFI list is driven by US accounts' identification....
Wrong again. FFI registrations is required to avoid a withholding tax on US source income, and that requirement is irrespective of whether or not the institution currently has any US clients.

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...which we suppose the bank has done as supposedly the account was declared
The OP stated the account was declared. Are you being rude for a reason, or do you have any facts to justify that comment?

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The IRS has no jurisdiction over commercial disputes.
No one said they did. My point was quite clear; the IRS keeps a list of "problem" accountants, attorneys and banks, and if the bank president has a reasonable IQ, he would not want US citizens complaining about his bank's conduct.
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  #31  
Old 05.05.2012, 16:42
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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(Because I am Swiss they let me know as well that they were doing me a favor allowing me to speak German and not Swiss-German.)
Actually you were doing them a favour as the Protocol is translated & then written in German!
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  #32  
Old 05.05.2012, 16:45
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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No law that you know of however any financial institution must be registered with either the SEC or the state (depending on AuM) where it provides financial services.
This thread is about a bank, isn't it? Providing financial services does not require a bank to register with the SEC. Federal registration & regulation of banks is via the FDIC; depending on the bank's charter, it may also be regulated by the FRB and OCC.

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...If it is not registered then there is indeed a law preventing it to contact clients in the US.
Please cite the law & section that prohibits a foreign bank from sending a statement to a US client.
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  #33  
Old 05.05.2012, 16:48
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Perhaps not in CH, but that is more a comment on CH than anything else. In the US, the fraudulent conduct is obvious, per the OP's recited facts: the bank provides a fee schedule, changes that fee schedule to add quite substantial fees, but does not tell the client in advance.
I think the facts deviate a bit from the truth and I am going to say why I think that.

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Wrong again. FFI registrations is required to avoid a withholding tax on US source income, and that requirement is irrespective of whether or not the institution currently has any US clients.
To-mah-to / to-may-toe. Once you sign up for FFI, you sign up for identifying any US clients you might have or not have. The actual point of FFI is identifying American citizens accounts, not withholding payments - that is only a means of coercion.

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The OP stated the account was declared. Are you being rude for a reason, or do you have any facts to justify that comment?
Facts? Simples. Swiss banks CANNOT open accounts on US territory and none of them would have done it knowing the beneficial owner is going to declare that account to the IRS.

Further as I suspect you well know, unless you have a hold-all-mail agreement the bank automatically sends transaction receipts for every transaction. So I don't buy the "we never saw the withdrawal being made, never got a transaction receipt for it, never got a letter informing of a fee schedule, but we got the quarterly statements." That is not how it works.

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No one said they did. My point was quite clear; the IRS keeps a list of "problem" accountants, attorneys and banks, and if the bank president has a reasonable IQ, he would not want US citizens complaining about his bank's conduct.
What the bank did was illegal anyway - I don't think the bank president gives a flying about US citizens "complaining about his bank's conduct" to the IRS as chances are the IRS already knows...
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  #34  
Old 05.05.2012, 19:18
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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This thread is about a bank, isn't it? Providing financial services does not require a bank to register with the SEC. Federal registration & regulation of banks is via the FDIC; depending on the bank's charter, it may also be regulated by the FRB and OCC.
Correct - however providing investment services does require SEC registration on the one hand, and on the other hand I think you'll find none of the Swiss-domiciled banks are FDIC/FRB/OCC registered thus in breach of the law...

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Please cite the law & section that prohibits a foreign bank from sending a statement to a US client.
Did I say that? All I said is a foreign registered bank cannot solicit clients in the US hence if it did that it is in breach of the law and will not send statements to a US address...
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Old 05.05.2012, 22:53
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Did I say that?
Yes, you did, see post #27 above "...If it is not registered then there is indeed a law preventing it to contact clients in the US."

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All I said is a foreign registered bank cannot solicit clients in the US hence if it did that it is in breach of the law and will not send statements to a US address...
You wrote no such thing in any prior post; you are a shameless liar.
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  #36  
Old 05.05.2012, 23:05
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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Yes, you did, see post #27 above "...If it is not registered then there is indeed a law preventing it to contact clients in the US."



You wrote no such thing in any prior post; you are a shameless liar.
See post ten.

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Old 05.05.2012, 23:47
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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See post ten.
I did. See post 27, which I quoted.
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  #38  
Old 06.05.2012, 10:57
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

If the amount in question was so small, you state USD 2-4k how come you have quarterly charges of over $1k ???

You're not being straight.....
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Old 06.05.2012, 11:27
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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He worked for the bank within the United States at the time he opened our account.
Clarify. Did the bank have offices in the US?
Let me correct myself: He was not a liaison (I’m learning details about this situation as I go along, so pardon me). He was a referral guy. And no, the bank did not have an office in the US.




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They sent us bank statements every quarter, which is a form of communication. So does that mean they were violating their own laws by sending me a bank statement?
No.
If they weren’t violating their own laws by sending me a bank statement, then why would they be considered in violation of the laws had they sent me an updated schedule of fees?


I should also mention that in December 2011 (after they charged the $3,000) they sent me an updated fee schedule, but only in regards to the various financial instruments they offered. It was irrelevant to us as we never used those instruments. However, it proves they were allowed to send me additional information aside from quarterly statements. They could just as easily have sent an updated schedule of maintenance fees, but they never did and they even admitted as much over the phone.



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No law that you know of however any financial institution must be registered with either the SEC or the state (depending on AuM) where it provides financial services. If it is not registered then there is indeed a law preventing it to contact clients in the US.
Please cite this law.




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You should really stop throwing "dereliction of fiduciary duty" around - it only does you a disservice. IF you were to look closely in the account T&Cs you'll see that the bank reserves the right not to contact you in certain conditions...
The Terms & Conditions specifically under the heading “Communications” states nothing about the bank being prohibited from contacting a client for any reason.




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Do you still have an envelope and if so can you provide a scan of the stamp.
I have all the envelopes they sent me. I will not provide an image of the postage because there is no personal benefit in doing so.


What I can tell you is that the postage has the name of the Swiss canton. The date on the envelope is in the European form (Day-Month-Year). It says “La Poste” and on the backside of the envelope it has the return address, which is unmistakably a Swiss address.



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Facts? Simples. Swiss banks CANNOT open accounts on US territory and none of them would have done it knowing the beneficial owner is going to declare that account to the IRS.
The way we deposited the money into the Swiss account was by writing them a check from our account here in the US. I don’t know if we formally declared anything to the IRS but I know we did everything in the open and our transfer of funds via check is easily traceable. Its not like we had a pile of cash lying around the house and smuggled it overseas to the bank.




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What the bank did was illegal anyway
Please elaborate.
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Old 06.05.2012, 11:32
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Re: My Swiss bank took my money!

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If the amount in question was so small, you state USD 2-4k how come you have quarterly charges of over $1k ???

You're not being straight.....
When I said "the amount in question" I was talking about the sum of money they took from my account, NOT the value of the entire account.

The quarterly charges were not $1K. The initial charge, for which I had absolutely no warning, was almost $3K. Then afterward they charged me around $450 per quarter for 2 quarters which comes out to almost $1K. So when I said "$2,000 to $4,000" I am talking about these amounts.
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