Below is a non-literal translation of my message sent to the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau (https://www.fine.fi/en/frontpage.html) through the “Contact through the web form” at https://www.fine.fi/tietoa-finesta/neuvonta/nain-otat-yhteytta.html (https://www.fine.fi/en/about-us/advice-and-counselling/how-to-contact-us.html for the English version) on May 17 at 15:48 local time, the Bureau’s response dated May 19, 2017, an email dated December 8, 2016 apparently originating from Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki [cooperative bank Ylä-Savo] which the bank claims not to have sent and a letter dated October 28, 2016 apparently originating from Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki.
[Start of my message to the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau sent on May 17, 2017. The original document in Finnish with my contact information and social security number covered is available here: 170517 FINE 1 170517 FINE 2]
Osuuspankki Poppia [cooperative bank Poppia, address Isokatu 51, Oulu, Finland] was transformed into Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki [cooperative bank Ylä-Savo, address Isokatu 51, Oulu, Finland] in September 2016. After the transformation the customer’s User ID, password and access codes could no longer be used to access the bank’s online e-banking service. The bank did not notify the customer before the transformation about the necessity of signing a new contract in order to be able to continue using the online e-banking services also after the transformation. The customer was thus not given an opportunity to, for instance, transfer all funds out of Osuuspankki Poppia through the online e-banking service and terminate the customer relationship before the transformation.
On October 12, 2016 I asked Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki through their open website (www.poppankki.fi/yla-savo) to send me the required documents for signing a new online e-banking service contract via regular mail. In their response dated October 28, 2016 Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki inquired whether I would be able to visit ”our branch on Isokatu in order to give you the letters which we have sent that have been returned to the bank and to sign a new online e-banking service contract”.
On December 8, 2016 I received an email from a person who introduced herself as Katri Jussila from Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki, according to which “The letters that the bank has sent you have been returned to us throughout the summer – fall” [note: although the translation may not be literal, the original text in Finnish does refer to all the letters rather than only some of them]. The claim is incorrect: account statements dated, for instance, August 8, 2016, August 31, 2016, September 8, 2016 and two statements dated September 16, 2016 have reached my postal address which is available from the Population Register Centre. Also the letter dated October 28, 2016 from Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki reached the same address. Thus either Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki has sent deliberately inaccurate information or potentially, based on some of the previous resolution recommendations made by the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau, “the customer should, based on common knowledge and the formulation and content of the email sent to him/her, have understood that the email was not sent by the bank” (PKL 35/16, 19.01.2017) [available in Finnish at https://www.fine.fi/ratkaisutietokannat/ratkaisu/pkl-3516.html]. The email also included the first two words from my former temporary postal address abroad which has not been valid for several years, inquired whether the address is still valid and asked to notify the bank about my correct address (which the bank already has based on those letters it has sent which have reached the intended address as well as the information from the population registry). If the email was sent by the bank, it has knowingly violated the customer’s privacy by sending information related to the customer relationship via unsecured or unencrypted email. If the bank has sent letters to my former temporary postal address abroad which has not been valid for several years, it has also enabled or facilitated violations of the customer’s privacy through, for instance, broken or deliberately torn letters, which appear to be relatively common in the area in question.
1) The operations of Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki will be terminated as a terrorist organization. The bank has knowingly prevented the customer from using his deposited funds and terminating the customer relationship before the changes became effective. Such activities have been based on considerations or motives other than the bank’s openly stated core business objectives – for instance, political considerations or motives – and may thus fit the definition of terrorism.
2) The customer will be given an opportunity to transfer all funds deposited in the bank to other banks with the old User ID, password, access codes and terms and conditions before the operations of the bank are terminated.
3) As the operations of Osuuspankki Poppia/Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki are terminated as a terrorist organization, the entire personal property of the employees and the management will be distributed as compensation to all those customers who have been targets of rights-restricting, privacy-violating or other harmful activities. The employees and the management will also be subjected to criminal liability for using the society’s basic services or functions for the promotion of terrorist objectives.
[end of my message]
[Start of the letter from the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau dated May 19, 2017. The original document in Finnish with my contact information covered is available here: 170519 FINE ]
Vakuutus- ja rahoitusneuvonta
May 19, 2017
FINE case number FINE-003474
Case Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki
About your contact to FINE
You have contacted the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau in a matter concerning the activities of Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki.
According to your view, the bank’s reporting and its other communication in connection with the name change of the bank has not been appropriate, as a result of which your banking secrecy, among other things, may have been compromised. You are demanding an opportunity to withdraw your funds from the bank and termination of its operations and subjection of the staff to criminal liability.
Evaluation and termination of the handling of the matter [at the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau]
Banks’ activities and the fulfilment of the preconditions for operating licences are supervised by the Financial Supervisory Authority [http://www.finanssivalvonta.fi/en/Pages/default.aspx]. In respect of the potential criminal liability brought up by you competent authorities are the police, prosecutor and courts.
In respect of withdrawing funds FINE states that a deposit is the bank’s liability to the customer, which it must pay back upon demand and which must not cause costs to the customer. For the aforementioned reason one way of withdrawing funds must be offered free of charge, but it may vary in each bank and account. The matter is clarified by the contract you have signed with the bank and the bank’s list of service charges.
As it is not appropriate to investigate the matter further within the scope of our competence, the handling of the matter will be regarded as being terminated in this letter.
With kind regards,
The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau
[the final row with contact details omitted]
[end of the letter]
[start of the email dated December 8, 2016 apparently originating from Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki. As the bank claims not to have sent the message, the statement of confidentiality hardly applies. The original message in Finnish, with some of the headers in English, is available here: 161208 email Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki]
I hope my message reaches you.
The letters that the bank has sent you have been returned to us throughout the summer – fall. Is your address still [removed]… etc.? If the address is not correct, could you please let us know about your correct address? [removed]
We have had a big change in September, where we changed from the POP bank group to the OP group.
With kind regards,
Isokatu 51, 90100 Oulu
Phone 020 7911 263
This message is confidential and may be privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient please notify the sender and destroy this message. You should not copy the message or use it for any purpose nor disclose its contents to any other person. E-mail transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secured or error-free as the message could be purposely altered, lost, destroyed, or may arrive late or incomplete, or contain viruses, or be flawed in some way. The sender therefore does not accept liability for any errors or omission in the content of this message arising as a result of e-mail transmission.
[end of the email]
[Start of the letter dated October 28, 2016 apparently originating from Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki. The original document in Finnish with the recipient’s contact information covered is available here: 161028 Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki]
We received your message concerning the online e-banking service contract.
Would you be able to visit our branch on Isokatu in order to give you the letters which we have sent that have been returned to the bank and to sign a new online e-banking service contract.
With autumnly regards,
[end of the letter]
The letter from the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau exemplifies a relatively common – if not partly a Party- or regime-defining – practice of the relevant authorities to misrepresent the substance of a communication or a complaint or to selectively reduce it to questions or straw men which can be formally answered without providing answers to the substantive issues raised by the communication or complaint. Nowhere in the letter is it stated that the bank has terminated the customer’s access to online e-banking services without notifying the customer in advance, required the signing of a new contract – potentially with different contents – as a precondition for accessing the online e-banking services and effectively refused upon request to send the contract draft to the customer via regular mail. If the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau is indeed of the opinion that the bank’s duties to its customers are fulfilled by providing one way of withdrawing funds without charges imposed by the bank irrespective of what the contract with the bank may or may not say, this is something that might well merit to be explicitly stated in a formal resolution recommendation. In other words, if the Bureau is indeed of the opinion that a bank is free to terminate existing contracts at any time without giving reasons for such termination or prior notice, require the customer to visit its branch in person to sign a new contract while refusing to provide the contents of the new contract to the customer in advance and repeat this procedure as many times as it wishes as long as the customer has one theoretical option of withdrawing funds from his/her account without additional charges – although clearly not necessarily additional contracts – imposed by the bank, why not simply openly state so in a formal resolution recommendation?
In this case the letter does not address even the misrepresented or selectively stated contents of the complaint appropriately. The Bureau is surely aware of the fact that most banks may charge additional fees for making account transfers in person in their branches. The Bureau thus knows that the customer may have been deliberately deprived of any means to make account transfers without additional charges imposed by the bank and is still refusing to investigate the matter further.
Even if no additional charges were imposed by the bank on account transfers made in person in their branches, from the point of view of a customer who might be using the bank’s services mainly online, the cost of a personal visit to the bank is not zero and may in some cases be substantial, if not prohibitive, within the desired time frame. Can a bank, for instance, deliberately refuse to inform the customer of likely, planned or inevitable contract terminations while the customer might be able to visit the local branch with a relatively low cost to terminate the customer relationship, wait until the customer is physically located abroad, terminate the online e-banking service contract with the intent or effect of cutting off the customer from access to his/her account while the customer is physically located abroad and pretend that all its duties to the customer are fulfilled by means of an actual, alleged or incorrectly presumed capacity to make account transfers in person without additional charges imposed by the bank in its branches? Is the Bureau of the opinion that a bank can terminate the only reasonably secure and convenient communication channel through which, for instance, a customer’s postal address might be reliably confirmed in case the bank chooses to ignore information from both the Population Registry and letters which have been successfully delivered to the address specified in the Population Registry – the online e-banking service – at any time, potentially shortly after the customer has used the online e-banking services without being notified of an imminent termination of access and the need to sign a new contract in person at the bank’s premises to regain access? No opinion is provided on whether a customer should be given an opportunity to terminate customer relationship before compulsory re-signing of an online e-banking service contract with the bank – if not also compulsory changes in the terms and conditions for using the bank’s online e-banking services.
The Bureau is also referring to “the name change of the bank” as if the name was all that had changed while being surely aware of the fact that the bank has moved from the POP-group of cooperative banks to the OP-Pohjola group. In some of the publicly available information on the change (see e.g. http://www.kiuruvesilehti.fi/uutiset/464 in Finnish), the CEO of Osuuspankki Poppia states that “Due to the change of the group the bank’s customers do not have to do anything immediately. As the change is implemented customer relationships will continue as before, however, at some stage of the transfer process cash cards and account numbers, among other things, will change to conform to the OP-brand. Osuuspankki [apparently referring to the bank as a part of the OP-Pohjola group after the change] serves its customers in its existing premises with the same personnel.” In other words, apart from being clearly inappropriate – if not also illegal – the actions and/or omissions of the Oulu branch of the bank also contradict the CEO’s public statements.
I terminated the customer relationship with Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki on June 5, 2017. The bank would have wanted to scan my ID before closing the accounts. They ended up taking a photocopy of my ID without my permission. The same ID has been used ever since the accounts were opened apparently without the need to scan it. The accrued interest during the period in which I had no access to the accounts appeared to be a relatively small fraction of the amount of interest that was paid during the previous period of similar length for a similar amount. Upon request, the bank would not print out account statements for the entire period from the last account statements of Osuuspankki Poppia dated September 16, 2016 until the date of closing the same accounts with different account numbers at Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki on June 5, 2017. If the interest paid was indeed clearly below what it should have been – or, at the minimum, the bank should have notified the customer in advance about a lower interest rate in order to allow termination of the customer relationship – and this exemplifies a wider pattern in Finland – if not also elsewhere – readers of this blog might take an interest in the subsequent career development of the management of Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki. In one potentially not entirely dissimilar previous example, my previous employer – Elektrobit – paid a clearly insufficient salary component that was based on sales results upon termination of the employment relationship and denied access to the actual sales records to prove the correct figures. The person who was the CEO for the most part of my employment at the company subsequently became the prime minister of Finland. Given some of the apparently qualifying merits for positions of political authority and some of the bankers who have subsequently become presidents in Finland, might the next president of Finland also come from the Oulu region – from the Oulu branch of Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki?
According to the bank, there are no letters which it would have attempted to send me via regular mail which would have been returned to the bank and the bank has not contacted or attempted to contact me about such matter. In other words, according to the bank, the email dated December 8, 2016 and signed by Katri Jussila claiming to represent Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki was not sent by the bank. When I asked whether the bank had attempted to notify me before any letters might have been sent to a different address (in other words, whether the bank has attempted to send letters to me to more than one address and if yes, whether it had attempted to notify me of some letters being sent to another address), the person who came to assist the person with whom I initially discussed allegedly did not understand the question. The person who came to assist her colleague noted that some customers had allegedly given feedback on what they had perceived to be extensive – if not excessive – amount of information received from the bank in regard of its transformation from Osuuspankki Poppia to Ylä-Savon Osuuspankki, asking the bank whether it indeed was necessary to inform customers so many times about the same issue. If such feedback is correct and authentically originating from independent, autonomous and non-co-opted customers, does this not in fact further implicate the bank in inappropriate or illegal acts and/or omissions in my case? In other words, the bank might not have acted inappropriately or illegally towards all customers, but only a specific targeted individual or individuals. According to the bank, it cannot assume responsibility for the actions of the postal service. This makes the bank’s policy of not notifying the customer in the online e-banking service portal about the upcoming contract termination at least two months in advance when no reason for immediate termination exists as stated in the contract even more interesting. How might the bank claim that it would have informed the customer about upcoming contract termination if it has only done so through a communication channel which it allegedly cannot control or take responsibility for – the postal service – while deliberately not providing such information through a channel which presumably is under its control and which it might thus be expected to take responsibility for – its online e-banking service portal? The bank would have charged additional fees for any account transfers or withdrawing the total amount in more than two bills/checks (documents which must be physically carried to the receiving bank).
The aforementioned pattern of deliberate misrepresentation or selective reductionism in official responses to eliminate the substance of the communications or complaints from such responses may be far too common in Finland – if not a qualifying requirement for positions of public authority. Partly for such reasons I have suggested elsewhere (see e.g. Rescuing Academism) that Finland might adopt English as one of its official languages. A single-jurisdiction small language area may inevitably turn authoritarian unless communication with public and private alleged or self-declared authorities can be conducted in more widely or transjurisdictionally understood languages. Even in the case of types of concentrated power which might in theory be democratically accountable or responsive – such as cooperatives – reform attempts within the prevailing system have sometimes not only been unsuccessful, but even in theory infeasible. In the case of one of the largest cooperatives in Northern Finland – Arina (see https://www.s-kanava.fi/web/arina/etusivu in Finnish) – the cooperative is allegedly not able to provide voting opportunities for members who have not received their mail ballots via regular mail or to confirm whether anyone who might have easily, for instance, taken the letter containing the ballot from the intended recipient’s mailbox might have used it to vote for fellow Party members or accomplices. As there currently appear to be no actually enforced privacy legislation in Finland that would prevent, for instance, bank officials, doctors or other professionals from bringing mobile devices which any non-opted and competent individual might well know to be less than perfectly secure to presumably private situations, such a vote might, at best, have been given to an individual who might have advocated strictly enforced privacy protection in all parts of the S-group before being able to take any course of action as an actual representative in the spirit of “representative democracy”. On June 5, 2017 at S-bank Limingantulli, Oulu, Finland I may have been pointed with three cameras simultaneously: one mobile device permanently on the table of the bank official with a camera pointing towards the customer, the camera of the bank official’s mobile phone when making a phone call and a security camera on the wall. If such pointing happens as a result of potentially rather exotic paths of movement that keep a specific individual within the line of sight from any specific mobile phone camera while apparently making a phone call in one of the supermarkets of the S-group, the advertisement coming from the loudspeakers at that moment might be related to, for instance, taking the “cat picture of the year”. While it may not be entirely unheard of in Finland for alleged professionals to either actually press or to deliberately give the impression of pressing the button on their mobile phones on their desks where phone calls are terminated after a presumably private conversation has ended, it may be evident also in the aforementioned case that S-bank is willingly and knowingly complicit in deliberate and blatant potential or actual violations of customer privacy.
Although the potential for law-enforcing revolution, for instance, in Finland to the maximum feasible extent – if any – might largely depend on Finnish-speaking individuals who are physically located in Finland, an ability to conduct internal communication in a more widely understood language may well be necessary to provide a more accurate picture of what is going on. It is quite possible for virtually the entire spectrum of public and private authority in any given jurisdiction to be authoritarian, “cartelist”, “cultist”, “conspiratorial” or “terrorist”, while it may not be obvious how any potential foreign aid or intervention targeting those authorities but falling short of permanent external occupation might do more harm than good from the perspective of restoring the rule of law or enforcing the law to the maximum feasible extent – if any. In the case of jurisdictions where banks might after a few-hour performance which they themselves largely or entirely record while denying the customer of an opportunity for recording refuse to make any kind of an international account transfer through any means – such as the Kamata branch of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in Tokyo on February 6, 2017 – and non-co-opted individuals might be violently persecuted or driven out from the occupied territory multiple times, the aforementioned conclusion may well remain even more valid.
In case one has ever wondered whether egregious privacy violations can indeed be remedied with more of the same in public or in any case information-extracting and/or –immortalizing court performances – or whether violent assaults can be remedied with more violent assaults, thefts with more thefts etc. – it may be instructive to remind oneself of the possibility that modern judiciaries or state structures in general may well have been influenced or controlled by the perpetrators since their inception. Beyond Legality argues that the most legal or least illegal solution or remedy to inherently irremediable crimes or human rights violations may involve enforcement of the appropriate solutions or remedies by every human being without the need for the victims to incur any additional crimes or human rights violations in the process of doing so.