HRIF.EU calls on Dutch MPs for a universal right to payment services and end to excessive unusual transaction reporting

On Tuesday, February 6, Human Rights in Finance.EU presented a petition to the Members of Dutch parliament on the universal right to payment services. HRIF.EU also called for an end to the excessive system of unusual transaction reporting in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands a number of unusual transaction reports is sent for 1 in each 9 citizens, accumulating to a yearly total (2022) of 1,89 million reports instead of the 33.000 suspicious transaction reports that should have been made when using the EU-rules.

HRIF.EU offered 14.753 signatures to the MPs as well of the support of a range of other organisations such as: Privacy First, Bits of Freedom, and foundations that represent Accidental Americans, (former) Dutch citizens/inhabitants living abroad, charities and volunteering associations as well as the association of United Bitcoin Companies Netherlands. The timing of the petition was made in parallel to a consulation on a law for cash and the limits that we seek in the Netherlands for individual cash transactions.

Below, we provide the outline of the essence of the speech that was addressed to the Members of Dutch Parliament during the presentation of the petition.

Speech during the presentation of the petition

Dear Members of the Finance and Digital Affairs Committees, esteemed chairpersons,

Thank you for granting Human Rights in Finance.EU the opportunity to present this petition today. The petition focuses on legally securing the right to bank accounts and reducing excessive anti-money laundering monitoring. A total of 14,753 individuals and a range of supporting organizations have signed this petition, underscoring the persistent and urgent need for action.

We point out that not all organisations that support the petition are present today. The full list of undersigning organisations is:

  • Privacy First,
  • Stichting Donateursbelangen,
  • Vereniging Partin,
  • Stichting Grenzeloos onder één dak,
  • de Vereniging Belangenbehartiging Nederlands Gepensioneerden in het Buitenland,
  • de Stichting Nederlanders buiten Nederland,
  • de Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk,
  • de Verenigde Bitcoinbedrijven Nederland,
  • de Nederlandse Accidental American Group,
  • Bits of Freedom.

Human Rights in Finance.EU

Our foundation, Human Rights in Finance.EU uniquely combines in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience, spanning from international regulations to national anti-money laundering procedures. Unfortunately, there is a stark contrast between the harsh daily reality of enforcement and the idealized world of policymakers. Our aim is to put an end to government and regulatory actions s well as private actor accounts closing and monitoring behaviour that frequently violate fundamental rights in the financial sector.

Fundamental rights require unconditional access to payment services

Now, turning to the petition, it addresses two main issues. Firstly, we urgently call for the legal entrenchment of the right to a bank account for individuals, organizations, and businesses in or associated with the Netherlands. In today’s digital age, having a bank account and access to digital financial services is not only practical but also a matter of principle. Cash is gradually diminishing, and essential services such as education, healthcare, and professional transactions are increasingly reliant on digital means.

For the uninhibited exercise of basic human rights, we urge policymakers to move away from the laissez-faire approach, recognizing that access to digital financial services should not be a privilege but a categorical right. Fundamental human rights, including the right to education, housing, and freedom of profession, are simply unattainable without access to a bank account.

The Netherlands must stop superflouous monitoring and ‘unusual transaction’ reporting immediately

Secondly, the core issue we address is the excessive anti-money laundering activities in the Netherlands, exceeding both legal and European guidelines. The reporting system in the country resulted in 1.89 million reports of unusual transactions in 2022, equating to one report for every nine Dutch citizens, far surpassing the 33,000 reports required by European standards. Continuing down this path is futile, as European regulations will eventually demand a transition.

Too much reporting of unusual transactions in the Netherlands, rather than suspicious transactions

However, despite recommendations from Dutch supervisory Authority DNB, the Council of State, and the Dutch Data Protection Authority to cease these practices, Dutch authorities seem to persist in continuation of this excessive practice. HRIF.EU does not understand this and points out that via Freedom of Information requests, it is well known that a change to this system can be effected in two weeks time, by changing lower delegating regulations. So why wait?

In the digital payment realm, we must not lose the human rights enabling features of cash. We emphasize the importance of preserving crucial public values associated with cash transactions in the digital world, such as inclusivity, non-discrimination, anonymity, respect for banking confidentiality, and a broader spectrum of human rights.

In conclusion, we request your immediate attention to the petition that calls for a legal right to payment services and a reduction in excessive anti-money laundering monitoring that infringes on a wide range of fundamental rights. We commit to keeping you informed about the aspects that policymakers may not willingly disclose. The urgency is far greater than you might realize.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chairman Human Rights in Finance (EU).