Hundreds of Chinese citizens staged a rare protest today at an office of Spain’s BBVA bank in Madrid, angrily denouncing that their personal accounts had been frozen without prior warning.
Waving Chinese and Spanish flags, the protestors shouted ‘racist BBVA’ and ‘we want justice,’ carrying banners reading ‘stop banking racism’.
BBVA, the second biggest bank in Spain, was not able to detail how many clients had been affected.
In a statement, it said it had frozen accounts to comply with measures to fight money-laundering, adding it was working to resolve the problem.
Protesters said other banks had also frozen accounts of citizens of Chinese origin recently, but to a lesser extent than BBVA.
All banks are asking the customers documents detailing their tax situation and income before they re-open the accounts.
‘BBVA bank is blocking all the accounts of Chinese citizens, and even Spanish citizens of Chinese origin,’ Ding Li, a Marid-based lawyer, told the AFP news agency.
He said the bank had not given customers prior warning and is ‘taking a really long time to respond’ to affected customers.
‘They closed my account a first time in August, and again two months later,’ said Ting Ting, the manager of a restaurant in Madrid.
She said BBVA blocked her own account, that of her nine-year-old daughter and of her business.
Unable to pay her suppliers, she had to open an account in another bank.