The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

Satabank client’s sole income frozen, cannot fund medication, risking heart attack

Rebekah Cilia Sunday, 4 November 2018, 11:00 Last update: about 13 days ago

A Satabank account holder can no longer fund his diabetes and blood pressure medication after having his only income trapped in the bank.

The individual spoke to The Malta Independent on Sunday saying he requires a large amount of medication costing him about €180 per month. “I have not told anyone yet but at the moment I am not taking any medication because I cannot fund it. Since I have diabetes and high blood pressure, without my medication I could get a heart attack or a stroke.”

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The Satabank client is retired but does not receive his pension from the UK until next year. As a result his only income is from the money he has secured in his Satabank account.

Satabank was ordered to stop taking deposits and had its St Julian’s branch closed last month in the wake of shortcomings in the bank’s anti-money laundering procedures.

Day-to-day essentials have also been difficult for this individual to purchase saying he now owes money to a number of different people. Some people have been particularly understanding of the whole situation with some offering money without him even asking for it. “I should not have to do this,” the account holder exclaims.

This individual has even spoken to his phone network provider explaining the situation but was told there is nothing that can be done.

Questions and answers were finally issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority on Friday evening about the situation. Customers are required to set up another account with a credit or payment institution in an EU/EEA jurisdiction in the same name as the customer name on the Satabank account.

This Satabank client did as was advised but “as soon as they ask you who you are banking with at the moment and why do you want to move, once they hear Satabank their answer is we are very sorry we cannot help you.”

He has basically been blacklisted from opening an account with a bank in Malta. The individual also confirms that he is trying to open an account with another bank but this is also proving to be very difficult with a number of documents being requested.

Since his main source of income is from the money in the Satabank account he has no recent pay-slips to show. Furthermore, he lives in an apartment where he does not pay rent as it was provided for in his mother’s will. As a result the documents being requested by the bank are difficult for him to provide.

The account holder cannot understand why his money has been blocked when it was obtained “in a 100 per cent genuine manner, not through money laundering but from inheritance.”

He does not comprehend why people like him had their accounts frozen when his funds do not even compare to the large amount of money associated with the gaming companies. “Even if they let us take €50 per day that would really make a difference.”

On the Monday when he heard that accounts had been frozen at Satabank, he tried to ring them but received no answer. So he went down quickly to the bank seeing around 20 to 30 people waiting outside.

The clients were asked to come back at 1pm as there was no information they could provide at that point. He went back at 1pm demanding to speak to someone but was told to wait in a queue to be called in when they were ready. They were eventually told to write to Satabank.

“I have since written five emails and all you get is a quick auto reply followed by a standard letter a few hours later. It says they will reply back to you as soon as possible. Of course they never do.”

He also says that two numbers provided to the clients to contact the bank are not answered locally but by a call centre in Bulgaria.

“I have also tried to speak to the arbitrator but they said there is nothing they can do. I also sent a long email to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to which someone in his office replied asking me what sort of bank account are you trying to open? She did not read my email completely. I followed up with more emails but have not received a reply.”

“This situation is being handled so badly. I have seen people coming from the UK and other parts of the EU just to find out what is going on. They keep saying money is going to be released but they do not say when.”

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