Barclays Bank in the UK has closed the accounts of non-UK residents following Brexit and is now dragging its feet in returning the money to their rightful owners, customers in Greece allege.
There are at least two cases of Greek citizens who have raised the issue. One person wrote to the Guardian and another case has been communicated to Greek Reporter.
A Greek citizen writing to the Guardian from Axioupoli in northern Greece with the initials AR said:
“I have had a Barclays bank account for 27 years and kept it when I moved to Greece but, after Brexit, it decided to close accounts held by non-UK residents.
“I have never received a letter from Barclays about this but, in September, I found I could no longer log in to my account which contained nearly £50,000.
“When I contacted Barclays, I was told it had been closed and it advised me to make a reclaim request for my money to be transferred to my Greek bank account.
I did this online on 14 September. I also filled in the account closing instructions form and uploaded all the documents it asked for.
I was then sent a “claim submission number” informing me that it would process it within 10 working days of receiving my documents.
However, more than a month has passed and my funds have still not arrived. I have repeatedly called Barclays to find out what has gone wrong, but no one can tell me. What has happened to my money?”
“Unacceptable” that Barclays treats its customers in Greece in such a way
A similar case has been reported to Greek Reporter.
AK from Athens told Greek Reporter: “I have been a customer of Barclays since 1981 when I first moved to the UK as a student. My account was closed in late June 2022 without any prior notice. Barclays insists that it sent three letters of notification that I never received.
“Since then I have sent two different application forms enclosing all requested documents, including certified copies of proof of identity and address. The last application form was sent in early October.
“I have not received my money. I have called Barclays several times but to no avail. I can get no information on why my application is delayed, if anything is missing or who is the person or department responsible for processing my case.
“I find it unacceptable that Barclays treats its customers in such a way,” the Greek customer of the bank told Greek Reporter.
Barclays says it contacted customers six months before account closure
Barclays has set up a dedicated website for customers who might be affected by the closure of accounts held by non-UK residents.
It claims that when it makes the decision to no longer offer products and services, “we are contacting impacted customers to give them six months’ notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”
On both occasions, AR and AK say they received no communication from Barclays that their account would close.
A spokesperson for Barclays told Greek Reporter that the bank cannot discuss a specific customer query unless a signed letter of authority is provided.
The representative shared additional background info regarding the closure of accounts:
- As a ring-fenced bank, Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.
- We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area (EEA) .
- We have been writing to our customers who have a personal current account or savings product (excluding ISAs) in the EEA since 2020. The full list of all impacted countries can be found on our website.
- Where we are closing retail accounts, we are giving customers 6 months written notice about the planned changes.
- If customers don’t take action, we will close their account but they will still be able to reclaim their money. We’ll move any credit balances to a central account for them to reclaim later.
- Our communications to our customers will clearly outline the timelines and explain their options so they have time to prepare before their account is closed.
- If a customer is a resident in the UK and thinks we might have an address for them in the EEA, we would encourage them to get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can update our records.
The Guardian notes that it’s hard not to conclude that Barclays has not put enough effort into managing these closures. “Sending letters and then closing accounts – even when no reply comes from the account holder – does not seem good enough when large sums of money are at stake.
There are other ways to reach customers, especially those living abroad, in the 21st century,” the Guardian says.