While France burns under an onslaught of petrol bombs, political correctness and squeamishness about the summary execution of rioters, almost everything is rosy in the Principality, as we are frequently reminded. Except in the workaday banking sector.
Things are almost fine for those residents – NEWS.MC readers – who count their net worth in millions, and for oligarchs there are still a few small banks willing to take the risk of processing your ill-gotten gains. Maybe a meeting on a yacht could be arranged?
But if you are a trader with a Monaco bank account it’s a very different story.
Firstly, no-one wants to open an account for you. To say the least, this is a problem for a new business that has jumped through all the hoops to open a business in the Principality. In theory, after three refusals, the state will instruct a bank to open an account for a resident, but what appears to be happening now is that the refusals are by telephone, rather than in writing, and as we all know in Monaco, everything has to be on paper, digital transition notwithstanding. So there is no refusal.
Last week I sold my Monaco art advisory business. I have been selling it for seven months, but at last all the papers were signed and stamped in quintuplicate. I was given a cheque. I took the cheque to the bank with a note from the buyer saying what the cheque was for.
The delightful young lady took the cheque and stamped the counterfoil and told me it would clear in two days, maximum. By Wednesday I could be celebrating with a good Margaux.
On the following day I checked my bank balance. It was slightly more than the 23 euros I had before, but not by much.
I sent an email to the bank. The very same day I received a reply, and an explanation. The scanner had missed out three zeroes.
No problem. I made an appointment to go to the bank, confident that the bank’s error would soon be rectified, and with an apology.
More fool me. My ‘adviser’ shoved five forms in front of me and insisted I fill them out there and then.
“Moneyval,” he said, adding that if I didn’t comply the account would be closed. I bought time and we agreed my accountant could do it for me as she had just done this for the Government and it was all totally up to the minute.
“For a cheque of that size it takes about 10 days to clear,” my friendly neighbourhood banker said, and rose to shake my hand.
I’ve made a note in my diary to check back in six more banking days to see if the cheque has been honoured by the bank, in full, as I am sure it has been by my buyer, or whether I will need to seek legal help to recover the three zeroes.
I also made another note. The next business I start will be bitcoin or cash only.
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