ING accused of discrimination for verification checks on Russian, Belarusian clients
ING is asking Russian and Belarusian account holders to upload their residency permits or passports or lose access to their accounts. Customers call it discrimination and russophobia. ING says it needs the verification to exempt its customers from sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine, BNR reports.
The verification process applies to people with a total balance of more than 100,000 euros. They have to verify their valid residency permit, or "ING ensures that they can no longer receive additional amounts," BNR quotes from a letter sent to customers. Without verification, customers can't transfer money between savings and checking accounts, but they can spend money and transfer it to others, according to the broadcaster.
One affected client has lived in the Netherlands for years, works for a Dutch company, and plans to apply for a Dutch passport soon. She called the communication from the bank, particularly the fact that she is being addressed about an invasion that she has nothing to do with, very troubling. "This shouldn't happen in the Netherlands," she said to BNR. "What if I want to take out a mortgage? Am I still eligible as a Russian at all?"
BNR found a Facebook group where affected customers chat with each other. A Belarusian ING customer called the letter from ING discriminatory against herself, her political beliefs, and her nationality. People with a double passport also have to upload their residency permit or passport again.
In response, ING told BNR that the bank is obliged to comply with the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus. The bank realizes that this could have consequences for its Russian and Belarusian customers' day-to-day banking. "To ensure that our customers can continue to access their day-to-day banking, we ask them for help. By re-authenticating with a valid residency permit or another nationality, we can determine whether we can exempt our customers from the sanctions."