Swiss bank account question

I opened an account at USB when I lived in Switzerland, and kind of forgot about it. I’d like to gain access to the account, and I called their U.S. number, and they said I’d have to go back to Switzerland to do that. Their website addresses only matters regarding people who use their bank in the U.S., as though it were a U.S. bank only–like a separate entity. Every January they send me a letter telling me how much I have in the account, but they never tell me how to access it.

I don’t understand how shady characters who operate corporations in the Virgin Islands can live in the U.S. and manipulate their money in Swiss banks so easily, when I can’t even make a simple withdrawal or transfer.

Can anyone please explain what I should do?

P.S. I know a student from Switzerland who can’t use her USB debit card here either. They tell her she has to get cash and open a separate account here.

I guess you mean UBS (United Bank of Switzerland). Why don’t you call up the bank directly? Go to www.ubs.com and click on “Our Locations” to find the details for the branch where your money is.

If you lived in Switzerland, I assume you have friends or relatives there. If it’s not possible to access the account from the U.S. (as the American office you called seems to have told you), I’d suggest (1) either going to a Swiss UBS branch next time you’re in Switzerland (of course this depends on how much is in the account - if it’s not that much, it might not be worth the trouble), or (2) giving powers of proxy to a Swiss friend.

Overseas entities of banks tend to be completely different companies, with very little ability to transfer between them. This is because banking legislation differs so wildly between different countries - even those in the EU.

Sounds like you’ve got a regular high-street bank account. Stuff in the BVI etc. will be a specifically-designed offshore account that is much more international-friendly.

I have an account with the Bank of Ireland, which I set up in Ireland. The BoI has an entity in the UK. When I moved back to the UK, I tried to transfer the account from Ireland to the UK BoI entity, but was told I simply can’t do it: I’d have to set up a whole new account, and couldn’t even transfer my credit history between them. Similarly I can’t make payments to my Allied Irish Bank credit card via a UK branch of the AIB.

That said, I have been able to manipulate overseas accounts in the past, either via a regular ATM (if they have your US address they might send you an ATM card), or by verifying my signature and authorizing myself to send instructions to the bank via fax (in other words signing a disclaimer that I accept the increased risk of fraud) to carry out wire transfers, etc. However, to set this sort of facility up in the first place, you might have to appear in person; or indeed the Swiss banking laws might not allow it.

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