Mini-course: No one (!) has to comply and can be fined when refusing to infringe Human Rights through ‘lawful’ AML-KYC-Sanction rules

Mini-course: No one (!) has to comply and can be fined when refusing to infringe Human Rights through ‘lawful’ AML-KYC-Sanction rules.


Hi there, welcome to our minicourse.

I am writing this now that in the Netherlands we have a discussion on ethnic profiling by banks. Banks say they don’t do it, but don’t tell everything they know. Of course: customer secret stuff. Bla bla bla and then: it’s in the law and we must comply. In the radio item they pasted all the repeat statements of the bank officer saying: it’s in the law. It’s in the law. We must do it. Etc.

And yes, it’s in the law. But note: banks and their KYC-AML-Sanctions stories act like the Borg. Resistance is futile. You must obey. We are the hive.

Still, there is more to it.

You can resist.

Bitonic case as a show-case how to resist

One of the founders of Human Rights in Finance (EU), Simon Lelieveldt, was the acting compliance officer, money laundering reporter and data protection advisor for a company, faced with conflicting requirements. The AML supervisor wanted mass surveillance and would not allow business if it wasn’t installed. But it made no sense and there was insufficient legal basis.

He advised his client to first agree with the requirement to stay in business and quickly took the central bank to court afterwards. See the whole story here. The central bank/supervisor retracted the requirement in full and Bitonic deleted all superflouous customer records.

The Data Protection Rules and Human Rights as your friend

In essence all banks and companies face a similar choice. Do you protect the customer and annoy the supervisor and get fines. Or do you annoy the customer with infringing intrusive controls and make the supervisor happy?

There is a choice here. This mini-course tells you that you have a choice. As a person and as a company.

You can choose to not be the Borg. You can be a normal human. And a human interest company. Because no State can truly force you to execute so-called lawful KYC/AML/Sanctions rules that harm fundamental rights and freedoms. And best of all: no government may ever sanction/fine you for refusing to harm fundamental rights.

Too good to be true?


Welcome to the Human Rights Defenders Resolution

Long story short. Starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, States have enacted and agreed between them to protect Human Rights in many ways. And listen to me carefull (for I shall only say this once). Most supervisors are so-called ‘organs of the state’ or ‘bodies of the state’. And those organs of the State are bound by the international treaties that States sign up to.

Do those bodies of the state, financial supervisors realise this?

Ah, bummer. They don’t. But that’s where this mini-course comes in.

States must respect human rights and any individual or group may be a HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER. See the statement below and Article 1.

Now, careful with Human Rights, as it is about balance!

What is very important to acknowledge, is that human rights are never absolute. You cannot say: I hate this government rule so I’m not gonna do it as it’s too intrusive. If other human rights (like safety, prevention of crime, health) carry sufficient weight and sufficient attention is paid to weighing the human rights then intrusive controls and rules are possible. It’s the trick to make sure that any intrusion of a right is proportional and geared to the problem and minimsed to its strict necessary proportion

However, if we look at the financial sector the balance is completely gone. All banks and governments dance to the tune of the Financial Action Task Force which itself isnot a legal entity but a body of state officials ordering mass surveillance to prevent money laundering, terrorism finance and enforce sanctions regimes (basically put a sticker on someones head and say: you’re out of the financial party and you can no longer participate in any financial transaction).

Do banking professionals have to comply with the law?

Well, yes and no. If a police officer says: jump in the water. It’s a police order, you may choose not to do so as it is bad for your health. Not every order is a proper execution of authority. You always have a mindset to refuse. At least, if you don’t want to be a banking borg. And this is found in the human right defenders resolution of the UN. Read below how this applies to communities of compliance and bank professionals as well. Your professional magic lies in Article 11.

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Help, they are going to fine us, we must obey, resistance against FATF is futile!

Next up governments, bosses and managers may be going sour on you and say that the company risks being fined and there must be compliance. Well, that gets you to article ten. It’s little known, and also quite new to me, but it is exactly the perspective that I applied in the Bitonic showcase.

If you wish to, if you sense that rules are disproportional and you can make a good case, this article 10 is going to be your way out against any opressive financial regulator or supervisor.


Use the fine to your advantage by considering it a punishment as identified in article 10 and refuse to pay. Take the oppressive supervisor to court.

Well how do I say no in a smart way then?

The way to say no depends on the topic at hand. But rest assured, there is always a legal angle that represents the human rights and ethics that need to be protected. Start with the Human Rights Declarations. Follow on to other UN resolutions. Google “PROTECT, RESPECT AND REMEDY”: THE U.N. FRAMEWORK FOR BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

There are truly many many ways in which bank compliance professionals, bank managers, supervisors themselves can embrace their inner Human Rights Defender and say no to infringement like profiling on names, nationality and implicit features which result in discrimination, denial of ownership, infringements of privacy and such.

Anyone who says: it’s in the law might essentially be saying: I AM THE BORG !

Of course it’s important to obey the law. But it’s not wise to jump in the water on any command. Unfortunately the latter is what the financial sector is massively doing.

And it’s understandable. Most of us get assimilated. And some may be happy inside the hive. But it’s a choice that one can make. Every day. And many Human Rights Resolutions are there to help you.

How can this work? show me the goods!

Ok. Go to our website HRIF.EU and follow the news. We’re onto a massive demonstration of the power of law and human rights. And it all has to do with overextended mass surveillance.

See you in the next Mini-course !