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In a lot of the movies the bad guys seem to prefer wire transfers as their payment method of choice. In the recent movie Non-Stop, the terrorist provides a bank account number and demands a payment of $150 million US dollars.

I am a loss to see how this works. If someone transfers money to an account here in the UK the sender can always ask for a refund or return by filing a fraud claim; the person receiving the money cannot simply just cash and withdraw, especially if the transfer is a large amount of money.

So are there actual bank accounts where you can dump loads of money and no one can ask or question refunds?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Some Banks fall under the jurisdiction of certain authorities: it's safe to say criminals would not choose those banks, instead opening an account with a specialized authority.

Typically, the Banks being used by the Villain are institutions that will not co-operate with authorities: the most popular deployed being the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. These locations operate under Bank Secrecy laws which remove them from the jurisdiction of international authorities. They are legally protected from handing over this information.

Swiss Banking in particular is notorious for accommodating illicit funds, dating back to the middle ages but more famously the bank UBS for continuing to hide ill-gotten Nazi Gold on behalf of the descendants of Nazi Officers...

... if Nazi Gold has remained in its vaults after all this time, immune from obligations of reparation anything can remain in such bank accounts.

Movies produced in the next few years that use 'Swiss Banks' for secrecy will be goof-guilty however, as new laws currently being ratified and introduced in the EU are about to remove the privilege such banks enjoy in Europe.

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+1 for adding that the protections that offshore banks like swiss banks provide are going away. –  DustinDavis Jul 13 at 17:08
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Switzerland is not a member of the EU and the EU doesn't introduce laws. –  Jörg W Mittag Jul 14 at 1:30
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@JörgWMittag, Switzerland has been made to conform to various provisions of EU law (this among them) in order to trade with its member states, and whilst not a legislative body, any laws that affect its confederates indiscriminately are still referred to as EU Law. –  John Smith Optional Jul 14 at 9:46
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... you do realize this line of argument has nothing to do with the question, and is neither contributing to nor detracting from anything said? if pedantry makes you feel the wording of the appedix needs to be adjusted, attempt an edit. –  John Smith Optional Jul 14 at 12:51
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Maybe one should point out that officially: Swiss banking secrecy is not unlimited. If there are suspicions of criminal activities such as terrorism, organized crime, money laundering or tax fraud, it is lifted – and the authorities are given access to banking information. AND No anonymous accounts exist in Switzerland. The bank is obliged to know the identity of the account holder, and of the actual financial beneficiary if applicable. –  Oliver_C Jul 14 at 21:29

Are you sure you can "refund or return by filing a fraud claim" when doing a bank to bank transfer? I think the refund thing is only available when using a credit card.

Here is a real-life example from Denmark: A danish company paid my company with a bank transfer, but they used the wrong bank account as target. And that company never got its money back. It was gone.

So I don't think it is impossible that once the money has been transferred to a different bank the money can't be taken back by the source bank.

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Unfortunately this is not an answer, and is better suited to be a comment on either the question, or the already accepted answer. –  MattD Jul 14 at 3:11
    
@MattD: I disagree. This is definitely an answer, especially the second paragraph. Just because the first paragraph is a question does not make the rest of the answer a comment. –  slebetman Jul 14 at 3:29
    
There is a difference between making a mistake in a transfer and being threatened by a terrorist. –  Taladris Jul 15 at 3:27

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