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NatWest bank accuses my client of presenting forged passport

NatWest bank accuses my client of presenting...

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Hello all,

Has anyone come across anything like this?  Any advice is appreciated!!!

A sole trader client went to NatWest bank on a pre-booked appointment to open a personal current account. He presented his Dutch (Netherlands) passport and a council tax bill as a proof of address. After completing the application procedures, the bank employee took the client’s passport and requested the client to wait in order to get his application signed by the manager. While waiting for the bank employee, 2 police officers came and told the client “the bank has called the police that you have presented forged passport, based on the bank’s detecting scanning device; and we should arrest you and take you to the police station”.

In the police station, a police officer has informed the client that his passport is sent to the immigration department at Heathrow Airport for verification. While waiting for the report from the immigration department, the client was interrogated and his finger prints, face photo, DNA test and shoe print were all taken and saved into the police computer records.

After approximately 2 hours, the report was received from the immigration department stating that his passport is genuine. After that, the client was released and allowed to go home.

Has anyone come across anything like this?  Any advice is appreciated!!!

Replies (22)

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By JCresswellTax
12th Aug 2015 14:12

What do you want advice on exactly?

.

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By The Innkeeper
12th Aug 2015 14:15

Regretably

you need legal advice and not accounting advice ( the clue is in the name 'accounting web')

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
12th Aug 2015 14:16

No, but a legal question

I've not come across the situation.

But, if the client wants to pursue this further, it's a legal question, not an accounting one. If the passport was genuine, then Natwest would appear to have made a false allegation, and your client has been inconvenienced by it. However, Natwest may be able to say they acted in good faith, if their device really indicated a forgery. Only a lawyer will be able to say whether any action is likely to be worthwhile.

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David Winch
By David Winch
12th Aug 2015 15:02

The client would have been eligible for free legal advice once arrested & detained at the police station.  He would have been wise to have taken that & in particular to have obtained legal advice before & during his interview by the police.

Have the police formally indicated that no further action will be taken or was he released on bail pending further enquiries?

The client may be able to obtain copies of the interview 'tape' & his custody record.

He should take legal advice concerning any possibility of a claim for wrongful imprisonment if his arrest was not lawful & concerning the retention by the police of his DNA, fingerprints, etc.

But if everything was done 'by the book' (& you do not suggest it was not) it is difficult to see that the client would have any claim against anyone.

See a lawyer.

David

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By Roland195
12th Aug 2015 15:04

Are you concerned about acting?

If you are concerned that this means you should not accept the appointment, I would argue that this client has now been positively identified by the Home Office and his passport validated which is more than you would generally have therefore the risk must be lower.

It seems a bit Orwellian that banks seem to have taken it upon themselves to try to detect forgeries - not sure this is required by any of the legislation. It may set a worrying precedent for us all - I would have a hard time identifying a forged UK passport let alone a foreign one.

 

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By psimonparsons
14th Aug 2015 20:59

Money Laundering law
The bank has a legal obligation under anti-money laundering law, as do accountants!

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David Winch
By David Winch
12th Aug 2015 15:20

Detecting a false passport

I do not think an accountant is expected to be able to detect a false passport.  What you should be attempting to report is a false client (i.e. a person whose financial behaviour leads you to suspect dishonesty / money laundering).

David

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By njpandya
12th Aug 2015 15:46

?

Worth asking NatWest; from where did they procured device from. If China, you may have a strong point, IMHO!

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By BananaMan
12th Aug 2015 15:59

Devices?

Would it be sensible to assume that in order to verify Passports from, say, 10 different Nationalities you would require 10 different verification devices? I mean, surely, if they all used the same device wouldn't that make them easier to fake?

 

In which case, I would suggest that it is highly unlikely that every branch of a UK bank would have their own device - for, say, each of the G8 countries, nevermind G20 or the rest of the World!

 

It doesn't add up in my opinion - it was probably just a jobsworth bank employee who'd never seen the foreign papers before passing the buck!

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By hje
12th Aug 2015 16:09

Is

he going back to Natwest to get his bank account sorted, though?

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By mwngiol
12th Aug 2015 16:17

Advice

Tell him to take his story to the Daily Mail. I'm sure they'd run with it....

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By Younis
12th Aug 2015 18:27

Thank you all for your advices

I know that my client needs legal advice not accounting advice in this issue. However, as I feel that I belong to you all and my client requested my advice, I, in return, requested your advice in this forum knowing that there are many senior members who have much more experience than me and may have come across similar incidents previously.  

But, surely the obvious advice is "see a lawyer" 

@ stepurhan

Thank you so much for the advice.

@ davidwinch

Thank you David, yes the police indicated that no further action will be taken. The client has received the custody record from the police mentioning all the interrogation questions and answers. During the interview, the police told him that a legal adviser is assigned to him; however, he was interrogated, his DNA, photos, and finger prints were taken and thereafter released before seeing the legal adviser.

@ hje

No, he did not go back to NatWest bank after the arrest. 

@ mwngiol

Thank you for the advice. I think this is a good idea

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Replying to sisyphean:
RLI
By lionofludesch
12th Aug 2015 18:44

Not an Offence

Younis wrote:

@ davidwinch

Thank you David, yes the police indicated that no further action will be taken.

Presenting a genuine passport is not, so far as I know, an offence at present so I'm not surprised by this.*

When you say "no further action will be taken", I take it that you mean by the bank and the police.  Not the client.

It's not accountancy, but it's a jolly interesting story.

 

*Reminds me of the old "Not the Nine O'clock News" sketch where a policeman arrested a bloke on a charge of "urinating in a public convenience".

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David Winch
By David Winch
12th Aug 2015 18:58

Response

I am assuming the client was arrested in England / Wales.

The 'custody record' is not a record of the questions the client was asked.  It is a record of the time at which he arrived at that police station, brief reasons for his detention, the time at which he was offered the opportunity to contact a lawyer, the time his interview started & ended, what time he received anything to eat / drink, what time he was released, etc.  It is referred to in PACE Code C.

Before or at the start of the interview police will have told him  'You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.'

The client may also have obtained a copy of the 'tape' of his police interview.

He may have received legal advice on the telephone at the police station (rather than face to face).

It is routine for the police to undertake certain procedures when a person is arrested & detained at a police station (photograph, fingerprints, DNA, etc).  Normally the police will ask the DP (detained person) for his consent & co-operation in taking those samples. But if the DP refuses consent then they can take them anyway (using reasonable force if necessary).

I am not sure what advice the client is seeking from you.

David

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David Winch
By David Winch
12th Aug 2015 19:36

'Prisoner'

Do not forget that a person arrested & detained at a police station is, in a sense, a 'prisoner'.  The detained person (DP) is not free to leave the building & may be held in a cell.  That detention could continue for up to 24 hours (although I expect your client was actually detained for a much shorter period).

The (suspected) offence - using a false passport intending to open a bank account - is one for which (if convicted) the DP should expect to serve a term of imprisonment.  The police correctly regarded this as a serious matter.

No doubt the DP would find the situation intimidating, particularly if he had no previous experience of being arrested & detained.  That is why he had a right to legal advice & would be read the formal caution before being asked questions.

Hopefully he will regard this taste of the criminal justice system as an educational, even eye opening, experience.

David

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Replying to paulwakefield1:
RLI
By lionofludesch
14th Aug 2015 09:31

Alternatively

davidwinch wrote:

Hopefully he will regard this taste of the criminal justice system as an educational, even eye opening, experience.

David

Alternatively, it's an opportunity to sue for substantial damages for defamation.

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By Alan Davies
14th Aug 2015 11:34

Advice

Does he still need an account? If so he has 2 options - never use Natwest again or go in all guns blazing and screw the best possible deal out of them.

Another consideration is what does he actually do - if he goes all 'Daily Mail' over the issue will it harm his business? Or could it be useful advertising?

Its a bit crap treatment though.

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By David Gordon FCCA
14th Aug 2015 13:51

passport verification etc

 

The short answer is yes.

 Worse still, my client worked at that time for another major bank.  He applied for a mortgage. The proposed lender clearing bank, (Not his employer!) accused him of falsifying his wife's employment details and income.She worked for a well know national organisation!

 My client was nearly in tears. You might imagine that such an accusation if proven would have done for his career.

 I got on the 'phone to the bank concerned and spoke to the departmental manager concernd in fluent Essex. Fortunately in 48 hours it was sorted.

 The problem is these banks rely on credit check agencies, I dare not name the well known agency concerned for fear of libel action. The same agency (Blame the computer) nearly put me out of business by, for some reason, linking all the companies that had ever been registered at my office address  to my practice (Ltd), for credit check and identity purposes. It took weeks to sort out.

 Your client must get the police to delete his record from their data base.

 

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By petersaxton
14th Aug 2015 19:00

"Passport machines"

I don't see how a machine can detect a false passport. It can certainly assist in detection but I assume that a skilled and knowledgeable person would have to use it and perform other cheques.

I have a "money machine" which I am sure doesn't detect all counterfeit money. With a few simple instruments and access to the Bank of England website I could detect counterfeit money but it would take a lot of time. I stick notes in the machine and check for one or two things.

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By petersaxton
14th Aug 2015 21:26

Airport Security: Columbia

I'm watching this program now.

Immigration are checking a passport. They have a machine to help them but they have to know what they are doing. The machine doesn't say "yes" or "no".

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By Caber Feidh
14th Aug 2015 22:58

Perhaps the Bank's scanner mistook the passport for a bank note

I wonder if the problem can be found in Younis’ client being told “you have presented forged passport, based on the bank’s detecting scanning device”.

A few months ago I read an article about the anti-counterfeiting measures built into bank notes. These included special patterns in the printing that caused scanners and copiers to refuse to scan or print them, and to display warnings that copying currency is illegal. Being a scientist/engineer I had to check the truth of this statement (or, if you prefer, I had to check if the contents of my wallet were genuine). No matter which type of note nor whether the scan was black & white or colour, I always received the error message:
“Cannot scan because the original may not be set correctly”.

I wonder if the client’s Dutch passport incorporated anti-counterfeiting measures that deluded NatWest’s scanner that it was scanning a bank note. If the scanner then displayed a message about illegality ….

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By mushie
15th Aug 2015 08:36

arrest

If the bank was merely trying to copy the document, and ASSUMED that a difficulty in doing this was due to its being forged, and they informed the Police ON THAT BASIS they are clearly liable for the tort of negligently causing a false arrest. The Police themselves may be liable for the tort of false arrest if they did not make SUFFICIENT, PROPORTIONATE enquiries while at the bank, before making an arrest (e.g. an absolute minimum would be to say to the bank "Show me exactly what you did with the Passport."

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