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As a citizen and resident of Mexico, American and European brokers are happy to take my business. But I'm also a citizen of Syria, which is sanctioned. While filling out account creation forms, I don't see any options to add multiple citizenship information. So it seems I should be good but just checking.

Can my Syrian citizenship cause any problems while opening or maintaining my financial accounts?

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  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 12:58

2 Answers 2

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To narrow this down to a specific country, you can read about the Syria sanctions here. Sanctions under US law are against a country, and against named individuals: there are no sanctions against "Syrians". A person cannot engage in transactions in (certain) goods of Syrian origin, and you cannot invest in (businesses in) Syria. A Syrian citizen who is resident of a non-sanctioned country is not subject the the limitations that exist on Syrian citizens who are resident in Syria. However, this legal fact is not universally know, so your question does reflect an existing belief. It is entirely possible that a person who believes that there is a law of attainder against Syrian people might cause problems, but if they get advice from their legal department, they will find that also being a Syrian citizen is not an impediment to legally investing.

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  • That is not true according to here support.tastyworks.com/support/solutions/articles/… ... or citizens of any of the blocked jurisdictions
    – user42018
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 18:16
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    That's an example of a policy-driven exclusion, not a legal restriction. Montserrat is on their forbidden list, because it is on the INCSR as a “Monitored” Jurisdiction of Concern. A company can decide that that is more potential hassle than they are willing to engage in. I had "problems" getting a bank account in the UK because of KYC concerns, but that was just a policy thing from the first bank I visited, and not the second bank.
    – user6726
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 20:34
  • Regardless of what you call that, my Syrian citizenship is clearly a roadblock for opening or maintaining financial accounts.
    – user42018
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 0:10
  • Actually it seems there are no brokers who let me create an account!? If the broker doesn't ask, is it ok for me to not tell them I'm a citizen of Syria? Instead I'd use my Mexican citizenship
    – user42018
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 0:16
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From the link provided in this comment it seems that the broker is in the US, and indeed is in Illinois. As the answer by user6726 correctly says, there is no legal or regulatory requirement in the US denying individual Syrian citizens brokerage or other financial services. Any such denial is the broker's own policy, and is not mandated by law.

A person is probably required to truthfully answer all questions on an application for such services. But if the application only asks for a single citizenship, it is probably not requires to list all citizenships an applicant may hold.

Moreover, the Illinois Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5) may well apply. 775 ILCS 5/1-102 (A) declares the following to be the public policy of the state:

Freedom from Unlawful Discrimination. To secure for all individuals within Illinois the freedom from discrimination against any individual because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, order of protection status, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or unfavorable discharge from military service in connection with employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and the availability of public accommodations

Section 775 ILCS 5/5-101 (A) defines "Place of Public Accommodation".

(A) Place of Public Accommodation. "Place of public accommodation" includes, but is not limited to:

...

(6) a laundromat, dry-cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital, or other service establishment;

Whether a broker's office is an example of "other service establishment" is not absolutely clear, but the tendency has been to interpret this to include any facility which generally offers its services to the public.

Section 775 ILCS 5/5-102 provides that:

It is a civil rights violation for any person on the basis of unlawful discrimination to:
(A) Enjoyment of Facilities, Goods, and Services. Deny or refuse to another the full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, goods, and services of any public place of accommodation

{Boldface in all ILCS citations added for this answer.}

Thus it might be unlawful discrimination to deny services based on "national origin" in Illinois. There is a similar US federal statute, but its definition of "place of public accommodation" is significantly narrower, and it does not appear to apply to circumstances as described in the question. Note that "citizenship" is not specifically listed as an unlawful ground of discrimination. But "national origin" is defined as meaning the country in which a person or that person's ancestors were born. To pursue such an anti-discrimination claim, one would probably have to apply, be refuses, and sue the broker. Quite a bit of trouble and expense. A lawyer would be needed to have a reasonable hope of success.

If an application is made listing "Mexico" as the applicant's citizenship, that may or may not be a "material omission" when the applicant actually holds dual citizenship. It might be wise to consult a lawyer with knowledge of securities law on this point.

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