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Spring 2005-01 Privacy of bank records

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Number 59
Spring 2005
New bill

Privacy of bank records

Puerto Rico House Bill 1030 would regulate the procedure that must be followed by government agencies in order to have access to customer records held by banks and other financial institutions.

If the bill becomes law, Puerto Rico government agencies would have access to bank records of customers only if:

the customer authorizes their disclosure in writing (valid for one year, and subject to withdrawal), following the language presented in the bill,

the agency issues an administrative subpoena, or

a judge issues an order or judicial subpoena.

The government agency in question must deliver to the customer a copy of the subpoena or order on or before the date that the same is served on the financial institution. In addition, it must inform the customer of the nature of its investigation and of the customer's right to protect the privacy of the records by filing legal action within 30 days, to prevent their disclosure. The agency must also certify in writing to the financial institution that it has complied with notification and all other requirements of the bill.

By way of exception, a judge may temporarily or indefinitely suspend the need to notify the customer, if the judge finds that notice may endanger a person's life or physical integrity, or would allow a person to escape justice, destroy evidence, intimidate potential witnesses, or jeopardize an investigation.

Financial institutions would be immune from liability to the customer for complying with a subpoena or order.

Government agencies would reimburse to financial institutions the cost of searching, compiling, copying and producing records, subject to a regulation to be promulgated by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions.

The law would not apply to:

regular examinations of financial institutions by their regulatory agencies,

production of evidence under the Rules of Civil Procedure or Criminal Procedure,

subpoenas issued pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.


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