French banks close UK art trade accounts

French banks are closing UK art and antique dealers’ and shippers’ trade accounts according to the Antiques Trade Gazette (ATG).

The trade publication for the UK’s art and antiques trade said that tighter regulations to prevent fraud and money laundering are prompting the banks to do this.

Account closure

According to ATG, London-based dealer Guinevere Antiques buys regularly in Europe, has banked in France since the 1970s and held a French chequing account with HSBC for 11 years.

They received a letter last year informing them of new regulations regarding foreign business accounts and HSBC’s intention to close their account according to the trade publication.

Brick wall

It said that in subsequent correspondence, Guinevere Antiques’ owner Kevin Weaver said he “met a brick wall” and tried instead to open a new account at a Paris branch of BNP Paribas, one that has established relationships with other members of the trade.

An apologetic manager told him that some small and medium-sized overseas companies were now being removed from BNP’s list of customers as they exposed the bank to increased risk according to ATG.

The manager reportedly added that, “antique dealers were particularly difficult”.

Wider impact

Other players in the trade feeling the impact of tighter regulations include the established art and antiques shippers, Hedley’s Humpers, who have traded for over 40 years.

The firm reportedly had their euro account closed towards the end of last year and according to ATG, their bankers at BNP Paribas cited the need to comply with money laundering legislation as the reason for the account’s closure.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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