Waterford residents with Spanish bank accounts should ensure that their non-resident certificates are in proper order as the Spanish authorities attempt to tighten the noose on ‘Gangland’ criminals.

Speaking to The Munster Express, Colm Murphy of Property Tax International (PTI) stressed that the certificate in question must be authenticated by Spanish banks to avoid accounts being frozen.

“This legislation was introduced by the Spanish Treasury in an effort to combat money-laundering activities which have grown considerably as international gangs have chosen the sunny Spanish coastline as their new home from where to conduct their international crime business,” he said.

“Every non-resident with a Spanish bank account is required by law to produce an NIE number or ‘Número de identidad de extranjero’ which literally translates as ‘Identification number for foreigners’ and a certificate of non-residence or ‘Un Certificado de no Residencia.'”

Mr Murphy said he’d been in contact with Spanish bank account holders from the south east who had encountered some difficulties since the new legislation was introduced. One had in fact flown to Spain last week to go through the required red tape with her bank.

“The reason that so many are finding themselves with access problems to their accounts is that many of the same banks allowed non-residents to open an account without an NIE number or valid proof of a non-resident certificate,” Colm Murphy explained.

“If your account is frozen, then any direct debit payments such as water, electricity and local fees, management fees and so on will be blocked, and this can lead to penalties and fines being imposed, so it can get quite messy.”

He added that thousands of non-resident Spanish account holders have received notices from their banks informing them that they can’t access their funds until they prove they are non-resident.

“Many in the industry consider that similar steps will be imposed on Irish and other European banks in an attempt to curb the flow of illegal funds,” he continued.

There is an estimated 50,000 Irish people with Spanish bank accounts, which are tied up to a holiday home or investment property.

Anyone with an account in Spain had been being urged to check with their bank regarding the current status of their account, Colm Murphy noted.

And while every Spanish bank is in the process of notifying all clients, PTI has identified a number of their clients who found out after their accounts had been frozen without receiving forewarning.