Can the Spanish government seize my savings?
The new draft National Security Law opens up the possibility that the Spanish government can seize citizens’ money and assets in the event of an economic crisis, but can this and other state laws condition savings in European accounts? We are speaking to Aina Ansó, from 11Onze’s legal department.
One of the distinguishing features of El Canut is the possibility of opening and managing accounts with a European IBAN, not just Spanish. This function gives people control over their savings and offers a wide range of possibilities that can favour the day-to-day management of bank accounts, but also the security and liquidity of savings. Aina Ansó, from the legal department of 11Onze, gives us the keys to understanding how having bank accounts in European countries affects us.
Our savings, out of Spain’s reach?
The first question to be answered is whether having an account abroad means that it is out of Spain’s reach. Ansó explains that, effectively, “it does mean that it is outside the reach of the State in the tax sphere, as long as the amount of this account does not exceed 50,000 euros”. Above this figure, it will be necessary to account for the taxation of money located outside Spain.
“In this case, the Tax Agency must be informed by filing form 720. Likewise, if foreign transactions exceed one million euros, the Bank of Spain must also be informed by means of the Foreign Transactions Survey. This applies to both individuals and entities resident in Spain,” explains Ansó. In order to manage our assets properly and dispel any doubts, she also recommends seeking advice. In any case, whether the 50,000 euros are exceeded or not, citizens will continue to file their tax returns to the country where they are fiscally resident.
In search of European protection
The debate about the protection of our savings is complex, and the key to this issue lies in who has the power. In this sense, Spanish citizens are increasingly concerned about the draft bill approved by the Council of Ministers on 22 June, which reforms Law 36/2015 of September 28 about National Security.
“The initial objective, as it had to be done since 2016, was to specify what resources the Spanish government can use in a situation of national security interest. In other words, what specific intervention the state can carry out in the event of a crisis, be understood as a situation that compromises the country’s security”. An intervention that, as Ansó points out, cannot yet be firmly established: “In order to know whether a European account can finally be seized, we will have to wait for the definitive text, although, given all precedents, the final wording could be so ambiguous that we will not be able to know its real scope”.
However, in statements to 11Onze, the lawyer Arcadi Sala-Planell dares to predict that “this law would not apply if the client has the money in a foreign bank, because Spain has no powers outside its territory, and this is a state law. Therefore, to intervene the central bank [of another country] it would have to be a European law”. “It would be a scandal,” he adds.
Control of our savings
Given the draft bill, it is clear that having our money outside Spain can give us more protection on our savings, but why does it protect us more? What differentiates Spain from other European countries? Ansó points out that “if we take into account how other European Union countries operate in relation to national security issues, it is true that most of these countries demand rigorous parliamentary control, whereas in Spain’s case it is only the National Security Council that is going to decide”.
Incidentally, a Security Council made up by the president of the government, the vice-president, some ministers and other authorities, such as the chief of the Defence Staff, the Secretary of state for security, the Director of the National Intelligence Centre, the Director of the Cabinet of the Presidency of the Government and the Secretary of state for foreign affairs, according to the draft bill to which El País had access.
Covered by European legislation
Fintech money protection system is governed by Directive 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and Council from November 25, 2015 on payment services in the internal market. This regulation, says Ansó, “requires customer funds to be separated from the e-money company and deposited in a separate account at a credit institution”.
However, as the legal expert points out, “this money could also be used to invest in safe, liquid and low-risk assets”. “But one must bear in mind that the e-money company is obliged to take out an insurance, or some other comparable guarantee, to cover the amount equivalent to the funds, in case the e-money company goes bankrupt,” she adds.
This European directive, in fact, is in line with the legislation that credit entities must comply with to insure up to 100,000 euros per deposit, a fact which seeks legal guarantees for customers in relation to their savings.
11Onze is becoming a phenomenon as the first Fintech community in Catalonia. Now, it releases the first version of El Canut, the super app of 11Onze, for Android and Apple. El Canut, the first universal account can be opened in Catalan territory.
If you liked this article, we recommend you read:
Do you know what El Canut is?3 min read
What was “El canut”? Why do we toast saying “Salut i força al
Are our assets and liberties at risk?3 min read
The draft bill for the reform of the Spanish national security law