Santander Bank of Argentina has started closing accounts of customers who bought new cars with cash during the pandemic. The former entity Banco Rio considered this account suspicious despite the fact that AFIP, Argentina’s Public Revenue Administration, authorized the transaction and the money came from an account kept at the bank.
Affected bank customers recently started calling Motor1 Argentina, which broke the story. In each example, the cases involve Bank Santander customers purchasing new vehicles between 2020 and 2023 using electronic funds transfers. In such cases, customers first receive an alert on their mobile via the Santander mobile bank app, followed by a formal letter notifying them of their account closure. The notification indicates that Bank Santander considers the transaction suspicious despite the fact that it was carried out using an official Certificate of Legal Funds approved by AFIP.
A Bank Santander customer, who purchased a new Toyota Hilux in 2020, notified Motor1 Argentina after their account was closed. They had held the account for 20 years and purchased the vehicle for five million pesos, the equivalent of $18,570 US, using money from the account validated with a Certificate of Legal Funds. Another customer had their account closed after 25 years for making online transactions during the pandemic. The third bought a Jeep Renegade with money from their checking account and closed their account even though Santander Bank had a record of all their transactions.
For more than two decades, AFIP has required customers and dealers to present an official Certificate of Legal Funds to transact new cars. Cash transactions are conducted using electronic funds transfers as a way to ensure money is traceable for tax purposes and to avoid the appearance of laundering. Santander Bank customers are also encouraged to do business online, which in many cases is the only option during the pandemic.
Motor1 Argentina contacted Banco Santander for confirmation. After 11 days, a bank spokesperson responded, stating, “The information published is false and unsupportive. There is no general account closing procedure for car buyers. Each account closing process is analyzed individually and in accordance with current regulations.”