In the wake of the closure of ABLV Bank in Latvia and alleged money laundering via the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, lenders in Estonia are closing the accounts of foreigners, but this threatens the country’s successful e-Residency programme aimed at attracting foreign investors.
Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that for the past year and a half, non-residents have been faced with the issue of banks refusing to open accounts for them in Estonia with banks’ arguing that the fees earned on non-residents do not cover the costs involved in supervising them.
«According to my information, one small Estonian bank has closed 1,000 bank accounts in recent months,» Estonian-based business consultant Ron Luvištšuk has said in an interview with the ERR. «This means that large banks may have closed 5,000 to 10,000 accounts. And they are not only closing the accounts of non-residents from third countries, but also those of EU citizens. Banks are afraid».
Offering non-EU businesspeople easier access to the single market, Estonia’s e-Residency programme now involves close to 30,000 e-residents in 143 countries worldwide.