By Nse Anthony-Uko
ABUJA, (Sundiata Post) — Nigerians and other nationals living illegally in the United Kingdom, or who live outside UK but maintain accounts there may lose their monies as banks have been directed to start checking customers’ passports before they withdraw money.
Banks and building societies will carry out checks from January to see if account holders are legally in the UK.
Financial institutions will be provided with a list from anti-fraud organisation Cifas on people who are liable for removal or deportation from the UK or who have absconded from immigration control.
The organisations will then have to report any names they discover and freeze or close the accounts.
According to the Guardian, 70 million accounts will be looked at quarterly to check the immigration status of the holders.
The Home Office expects to identify 6,000 visa overstayers, failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders facing deportation in the first year of the checks, which are to be carried out quarterly.
The accounts of those identified will be closed down or frozen “to make it harder for them to establish or maintain a settled life in the UK”, The Guardian reports.
Officials say freezing accounts that hold significant sums “will create a powerful incentive [for those involved] to agree to voluntary departure” so they can secure their money once they have left the country.
Immigration welfare campaigners warned that the Home Office’s recent record meant it could not be trusted to implement this new system without errors and that migrants with every right to be in Britain were likely to be hit by mistakes in the imposition of the checks.
Up to 250,000 people drop off the radar and end up as illegal immigrants in Britain every year, according to secret Home Office figures, amid warnings that border controls are completely ineffective and will only get worse after Brexit, The Telegraph reports.
An estimated over 1.2million illegal immigrants were currently living in Britain, predominantly after overstaying their visas,
David Wood, who was head of immigration enforcement at the Home Office until 2015, told The Telegraph.