Banco Nacional freezes incoming wire transfers. We recently had a real estate transaction that required the Buyer of the property to wire transfer US$100,000 to the account of the Seller at Banco Nacional de Costa Rica. When the funds arrived at Banco Nacional it froze the transfer in its general account pending their source of funds review. This is part of the anti-money laundering compliance requirements. Generally the burden is and should be on the account holder to provide it’s own bank with the documentation it requires to credit the funds to its account. The Banco Nacional account holder was a longtime customer of Banco Nacional and even had a revolving line of credit with Banco Nacional.
All documentation related to the sale of the property was provided and despite that the bank refused to release the funds to its own account holder. Banco Nacional demanded that the non-account holder provide them with an original letter of reference from their bank in the United States and copies of the non-account holders bank account records. This was the first time I had encountered this type of request of a third party non-account holder. If you do not comply the funds get sent back to the point of origin.
I have asked Banco Nacional to provide me with the written requirement, directive or documentation where this procedure was implemented. The response has been that this is a “bank requirement” and that internal procedures are not released to the public.
My initial reaction to this was that it could adversely affect the flow of commerce and transactions to Costa Rica if every single person or entity that sent a wire to Costa Rica had the funds frozen while the sender pulled together supporting documents and a bank reference letter to send to Costa Rica. Is this being done randomly? Is every single incoming wire subjected to this procedure? We don’t know since Banco Nacional does not disclose that information. In the meantime if you are sending a wire transfer to Costa Rica and it is going to Banco Nacional be aware that the funds are frozen on arrival. As such before you wire any money to Costa Rica be sure to consult the receiving bank to find out what documentation they require to avoid hassles in completing your transaction.