Düsseldorf, 09 December 2019
Successful representation of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf before the Administrative Court.
Rellermeyer successfully represented the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf in an administrative court proceeding against a registered association which, according to its statutes, pursues humanitarian projects in crisis areas such as Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea. According to constitutional protection reports of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia of recent years, the association is to be regarded as extremist-salafistic.
In its ruling of 24 October 2019, the Administrative Court of Düsseldorf dismissed the association’s suit against the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf regarding the opening of a current account (20 K 6668/18).
In the opinion of the Administrative Court, the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf is entitled to refuse to open an account. The Administrative Court states, among other things, that the plaintiff’s activities in numerous crisis countries would be associated with increased control expenditure for the defendant in the case of an account management. For example, Syria, whose territory is partly controlled by a terrorist organisation, is subject to special restrictions under EU law. In general, the defendant would already be subject to increased duties of care under the Money Laundering Act if the plaintiff were to make payments to the countries mentioned via an account with the defendant. The fulfillment of such due diligence obligations is not part of the tasks of a savings bank within the framework of services of general interest pursuant to the Savings Banks Act.
The judgement shows with gratifying clarity that the increased control effort for customers whose use of funds is questionable from the point of view of money laundering is to be regarded as an independent objective reason for refusing to open a current account. It also becomes clear that the view sometimes expressed in court rulings that savings banks are obliged to open a current account for political parties is not transferable to associations which, according to their own statements, have a religious objective.