HSBC staff should not deny customers access to their own cash unless they suspect financial crimes, the bank told employees yesterday.
It comes after complaints that some customers were not allowed access to funds.
As part of its compliance controls the bank asks customers why they want to take out large sums of cash, and to provide documentary evidence.
In part the bank says this is to offer alternative services. But it has resulted in some customers being denied access to the money.
The bank has apologised.
“As a responsible bank we must track all financial transactions. Cash presents more risk, and in particular financial crime risk, than other payment methods,” HSBC said in a statement. “Since November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for.
However, it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal.
“We apologise to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced.”
The change of rules last year came to light when HSBC customers aired their complaints on BBC’s Money Box programme.
Stephen Cotton said he was refused £7,000 he needed to repay a loan to his mother, but was allowed to withdraw a smaller amount, while another customer, Belinda Bell, said she was initially denied the cash she needed to pay her builder until she showed the builder’s quote.
Cotton, who complained to HSBC about the change of rules, told the BBC: “I’ve been banking in that bank for 28 years. They all know me in there. You shouldn’t have to explain to your bank why you want that money. It's not theirs, it’s yours.”