Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (115)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

114 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the continuing difficulty for some young people, particularly those in trainee positions, in opening bank accounts due to the list of documents required of them by their banks, and in particular documents which prove address; if his attention has been further drawn to a bank (details supplied) in Dublin 11 which is no longer accepting ML 10 Garda forms as proof of identity and address; and the plans he has to change the regulations to make it easier for young people to open bank accounts. [6519/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

Section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 requires financial institutions to take reasonable measures to identify their customers. Recommended procedures for the implementation of this provision are set out in guidance notes issued under the aegis of the money laundering steering committee which is chaired by the Department of Finance and includes representatives of financial services industry bodies and the regulatory authorities and State agencies, including the Garda Síochána. The full text of the money laundering guidance notes for credit institutions is available on the Department of Finance website athttp://www.finance.gov.ie/Publications/ otherpubs/monlaun.htm.

Identification of a customer comprises two elements. These are name verification, typically evidenced by photograph-bearing document such as passport, driving licence or other reputable source document, and address verification. Paragraph 28 of the guidance notes states that any measures adopted by credit institutions should not deny a person access to financial services solely on the grounds that they do not possess certain specified identification documentation. Paragraph 45 of the guidance notes provides for those persons who cannot reasonably be expected to produce certain forms of identification, such as a person who does not have a passport or driving licence and/or whose name and Irish address does not appear on a utility bill, electoral register or directory. One of the alternative methods of verifying a persons name is the Garda form mentioned by the Deputy. My understanding is that the bank referred to by the Deputy has no difficulty in accepting this form as proof of identity.

However, the guidance notes do not intend that this form should be used to verify a person's address.

The alternative methods of address verification set out in the guidance notes include; letter/statement from a person in a position of responsibility, for example, a solicitor, accountant, doctor, minister of religion, teacher, social worker, community employment scheme supervisor, who is in a position to confirm the person's address to the credit institution. In such instances the person providing the letter/statement must present to the relevant credit institution providing proof of identity and verifying his or her status to the credit institution.

Documentation/cards issued by a Department showing the address of the person.

Normally, difficulties arising at account opening are resolved by an approach from the prospective customer to the branch management or to the bank's customer service department. I should stress that it is a matter for each institution to ensure that its procedures satisfy the legal requirement under the Criminal Justice Act 1994 that financial institutions take reasonable measures to identify their customers.