Blocked account scandal calls victims to the scene: Demonstration announced in front of the Foreign Ministry

The demonstration is planned to take place on 12 August at 1 pm in front of the Foreign Ministry.

An alliance of the Federal Association of Foreign Students, the Berlin Regional Students’ Association and the two local students’ associations of Humboldt University Berlin (RefRat) and the University of Mainz is calling for a demonstration in front of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Thursday, 12 August at 1 pm. The meeting point is the Baerenbrunnen (Bear Fountain) at Werderscher Markt. The motivation for the demonstration is the blocked account scandal caused by the provider »BAM Bundesweites Anlagenmanagement«. Nevertheless, the organisers also want to point the finger at the general financial and legal situation of foreign students.

»The blocked account market is almost unregulated. It was only a matter of time until some provider took advantage of this jester’s licence«, states Fabian de Planque, financial officer of the Federal Association of Foreign Students (BAS). »The legislator urgently needs to make improvements here. We demand that only banks licensed in Germany be allowed to engage in blocked account business.« Malú Ortega Méndez, AStA speaker for international students at the University of Mainz, explains: »By placing the information on its own website, the Foreign Ministry has driven the people into the hands of a fraudulent provider. The ministry continues to deny any responsibility. This is regretful and has eroded the trust of foreign students in the German state.«

The BAS and the RefRat demand that a blocked account be waived, as the students got into the predicament through no fault of their own. In general, the student representatives are in favour of abolishing the proof of financing. As long as this proof is required, alternatives to the blocked account should be used. »Every embassy is doing its own thing here. Not to mention the foreigners authorities«, says Benjamin Kley, study and teaching representative of RefRat at Humboldt University Berlin. »Often decisions are made to the disadvantage of the students, even if there is no margin of decretion at all.«

Now that some of the victims have received back payments, the situation remains opaque. On BaFin’s instructions, Aareal Bank has paid out the money to the first among the victims into their newly set up blocked account. However, a total of EUR 110 is missing compared to the amount paid in when the contract was concluded. The bank pretends to be clueless. 60 EUR of this can be traced back to the service fee of the provider »BAM«. One actually wonders for which service. But the difference of 50 EUR has simply disappeared. »Apparently, the manager withdrew the deposits of the victims shortly before BaFin intervened. With almost 700 people affected, that was a quickly earned EUR 77,000. This is an unparalleled scandal«, de Planque is outraged. »The person in charge is meanwhile allegedly already out of the country. The authorities intervened too late. So for those affected, compensation and certainty will take a long time coming.« BAS criticises the communication strategy of the authorities as too intransparent, vague and delayed.

Furthermore, reports have been heard from the victims that Aareal Bank has refused payouts to blocked account providers such as Coracle. They justified this by saying that the blocked accounts would not be opened in the name of the students. This was precisely the reason why BaFin prohibited »BAM« from doing business. De Planque notes: »In the case of BAM, this was not yet a problem for Aareal Bank. As soon as the reputation is at stake under the eyes of the public, one pretends to be responsible and compliant with the law. Aareal Bank is obviously more deeply involved in the scandal than it tries to make the public believe.«