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Agency slaps Citibank Japan with sales suspension

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26 Comments
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Citibank won't even hand you an application to open an account unless you show your gaijin card. With Japanese banks, there are about eight other acceptable forms of ID. In its heavy-handed efforts to prevent money laundering, Citibank comes across as discriminatory toward foreign residents of Japan. But in the larger picture, currency markets are rather strictly regulated and foreign currency transactions still involve a lot of red tape. Most laundering is done by underground banks by which Chinese who work here remit funds back home using a network of brokers.

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I think Citibank is being hounded by the FSA - you have to jump through more hoops at Citibank to transfer money than the two Japanese banks that I have used.

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Basically the Japanese don't like foreign competition working in Japan.

Citibank offer a much more user friendly banking service to me than my local Japanese bank does. Also an on-line service that is actually available in English.

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DeepAir65 -- agree. Citibank is in he FSA's radar screen, so they get publicly rebuked for every little problem. Makes the public happy I guess.

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Basically the Japanese don't like foreign competition working in Japan.

Basically anyone, japanese or foreigner can open a bank account in japanese banks but Citibank is only looking for wealthy customers. You have to let few millions yens on your Citibank account. No japanese bank ask you to have millions on your account. If foreigners are obssessed by having a Citibank account, good for them, japanese are not interested in this bank. Also online english service is not really something japanese need in a japanese speaking country.

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Citibank also have online Japanese but thank you for providing to the minority.

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Citibank won't even hand you an application to open an account unless you show your gaijin card.

Because citibank has been banned in opening new accounts in Japan, they open the account as a non Japanese account. Citibank has been in trouble for money laundering so many times now it is not funny.

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@King

Also online english service is not really something japanese need in a japanese speaking country.

it is something non-Japanese customers who need to access their accounts from computers with non-Japanese keyboards appreciate though.

Thank you Citibank for having the imagination to provide a service for ALL your customers.

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I am sure citibank isnt innocent but this seems likely to be simple harassment by the authorities, I mean I am pretty sure yakuza use J-banks & not just citibank doh!

And as a long time citibank user in Jpn I too thank them for making banking easy & hasslefree 99% of the time

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Rodney_King: "Also online english service is not really something japanese need in a japanese speaking country."

It's still a practice in exclusion, which makes banks who don't offer English services as an OPTION inferior and discriminatory. Citibank, while not being the best bank in my opinion, therefore provides appreciated services to ALL its customers, even though a typical Japanese reaction might be one like you posted above.

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Citibank Japan really deserves this. Just for the sheer misery they have put me through until I changed to HSBC Premier. Joy ever since I closed that account.

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Citibank is the worst bank I've had to deal with. Beezlebub...you're right, the ask for the gaijin card. If you are American you have to surrender your social security number. This doesn't make any sense to me as it's a Japan based account. Customer service, non-existent. Also the English speaking staff they talk about...huh, mediocre at best. This young staff guy spoke to me in English like I was his "homie". Nickel, please. Learn some customer service before you come at me with that crap.

Horrible, horrible experiences with Citi...

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I opened a Citibank account the day after I arrivied in Japan. I didn't have a gaijin card. 24 hour ATMs, reasonable internet banking services (although not a good as British banks), polite service in person or on the phone (in Japanese or English), swift replacement of my lost cards... I doubt if my banking experiences would have been as good with any other mainstream bank in Japan.

Can't understand Rodney King's comments. Do you banks in the rest of the world should stop all their foreign language sevices? Or do you think being able to speak fluent Japanese should be a prerequisite to receiving banking services in Japan? And what's this cr@p about having to have millions in your Citi account? I opened my account with a 5000yen deposit.

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Citibank sucks. They were trying to get my SS# here in Japan saying that they are required to report it to the US government. Crazy. I had 0 yen in my account but for almost 1 year they sent me a monthly letter demanding this information.

Citibank America is exactly like the maffia. Their percentage rates are insane.

Hate that company. Glad they are getting hit hard.

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When I closed my account back in Feb,it took an hour of paperwork and whatever else to do so.

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noborito: surely that's the US government's fault for taxing Americans whereever in the world they live. Do you think Citibank are going to deliberately break the law to save you from your tax commitments? If you wanted to avoid US tax perhaps you should've thought twice before open an account with a US bank.

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Like taiko666, I also opened a Citibank account a long time ago. It was great at first. Then everything changed. My current opinion of them is the same as nobirito. Please enjoy your pain Citibank. You earned it.

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Citibank definitely has some bad points, but lest we take our focus off the article, what they have done here is a GOOD thing. Unlike Japanese banks, they are taking steps to try to enforce Japan to enforce its own law over the mafia, laundering, etc., and it's pretty clear Japan doesn't want to do that on its own -- or simply cannot.

So, while all of you are criticizing Citibank for this and that, don't forget to double the criticism on Japan for its utter weakness in dealing with bank related crime.

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"When I closed my account back in Feb,it took an hour of paperwork and whatever else to do so."

Try that at a regular J-bank and see how long you have to wait. It's not fun.

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Citibank is too much of a hassle to operate in Japan. Specifically beacause all of the hoops they make you jump.

The other day i went to close my account and they wouldnt even let me do that.

The retail branches do not have any commercial banking. They mention a "corporate division" but i wanted to open an account for my company, and they said they couldn't help me.

I have a Citicard from the USA, and went to one of the Citi branches (where I have an account) to do a cash advance with my US Passport (something I can do in any bank in China or other countries abroad) but they looked at me like I was a space alien.

terrible, terrible. Opened an account with Mitsubishi, and i can do a lot more things, less of a hassle, and cheap. The only prob is no banks in Japan have English documentation or websites.

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Tried to open an account when I lived there and it was a nightmare. Not too many people at the branch,but waited almost an hour. Customer service sucked. I said screw it,and left.

Not too bad of an experience with UFJ and Post Office account was smooth. At least UFJ has ATM's almost everywhere.

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Japanese pronunciation of this bank is correct > shitty bank ...

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Japanese pronunciation of this bank is correct > shitty bank ...

Overall, banking in Japan sucks. The only developed country that doesn't allow the use of foreign Visa/Mastercards it its ATMs, ATMs which close at 9pm, having to do everything via snail-mail etc. I think most posters who are complaining about Citibank Japan are just comparing it with the much more advanced banking they enjoyed before they came to Japan.

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well, to their credit citibank ATMs actually worked 24/7 (back in 1999 at least... when the most other ATMs were limited to 9am - 8pm)

I remember going to the ATM at 11:55pm so i could withdraw $1000 then 5 mins later another $1000 from my Australian bank. (but using the cirrus system, not credit)

Japan Post Bank ATM machines take Visa card from all countries, and their AMTs all have English menus for most transactions.

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Overall, banking in Japan sucks. The only developed country that doesn't allow the use of foreign Visa/Mastercards it its ATMs, ATMs which close at 9pm, having to do everything via snail-mail etc. I think most posters who are complaining about Citibank Japan are just comparing it with the much more advanced banking they enjoyed before they came to Japan.

I wouldn't call having access to ATM after 9pm as an advancement considering the fact that most of the theft occurs during those times. Sure there are times that I wished ATM were opened late at night. But that's about 2 times out of 365 days a year. I also wished that there were times when ATM's would allow more than a $500 withdrawl. But I don't go out of my way to characterize the whole banking system as "not advanced" simply because of that.

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Citibank definitely has some bad points, but lest we take our focus off the article, what they have done here is a GOOD thing.

What are you talking about? Checking other sources, not only did they not update the system where it detects those type of accounts/transaction as per 2004 order, the FSA discovered a hundred or so accounts in their audit findings. Don't assume that the Japanese banks have not implemented such in-house detection system when you can't back it up.

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