Americans’ life savings disappear from Mexican Monex bank

Monex Casa del Bolsa, aka Holding Monex, is a Mexican financial institution founded in 1985 which is one of the world’s largest providers of commercial foreign exchange.

On its website, Monex says it engages in both corporate and private banking, and boasts that it is “an institution formed by leading companies in financial and payment businesses, that provide services and specialized products in the national and international market in an innovative manner and with the highest ethical and quality standards.

With $5.2 billion in assets and operations in the U.S., Monex Casa del Bolsa also provides banking services to foreigners visiting or doing business in Mexico, as well as many American expatriots living in Mexico.  Mostly retirees, they have to navigate a society with fewer legal and financial protections than they’d get in the U.S.

Those Americans, however, recently discovered that the money in their Monex bank accounts has disappeared.

David Welch reports for Bloomberg, May 24, 2019, that “Americans say money they had at Monex is gone and the bank isn’t helping them.”

Among those Americans are Kathy and Jim Machir, two of some 10,000 Americans who’d moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Last December, the Machirs called Marcela Zavala Taylor, their Monex banker of 9  years, to get cash for contractors building their retirement home in San Miguel de Allende, San Miguel, a city of 69,000 about 500 miles south of McAllen, Texas. But Zavala didn’t return calls, and the Machirs discovered that their nest egg was gone. Kathy Machir says: “When they told us we had 6 pesos [32¢] in our accounts, I just felt sick to my stomach. Since then, they have not dealt with us in good faith.”

Zavala is local royalty: daughter of former Mayor Manuel Zavala and his Texas-born wife, Peggy Taylor, an agent for Christie’s International Real Estate. Zavala has worked for Monex about 20 years, and became San Miguel’s banker of choice by winning over expats with promises of fat returns on accounts she claimed were dollar-denominated and immune to the peso’s fluctuations.

In early January, Monex officials told the Machirs and other San Miguel expatriates that about $40 million was missing from as many as 158 accounts, many belonging to English-speaking Americans.

A dozen people interviewed by Bloomberg News say that bank statements Zavala sent them purporting to show full accounts were apparently falsified. Most say the bank has told them little since they filed complaints, and some say Monex tried to settle for far less than the balances owed.

Kevin Carr, founder of financial technology firm Finiden in Washington, D.C., and formerly the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s primary representative in Mexico, says fraud is becoming more common. According to Condusef, Mexico’s consumer protection agency, last year there were 7.3 million complaints of fraud involving 18.9 billion pesos, about $1 billion — more than double the number of claims in 2014. Carr says “Mexican authorities try to prosecute these cases but often aren’t successful.

Monex spokeswoman Eva Gutierrez said in a press release last Thursday that the bank is working with clients and has settled with 70%. Some clients interviewed by Bloomberg News who settled for reimbursement say Monex required them to file charges with the Procuraduria General de Justicia, the equivalent of an Attorney General’s Office, in Mexico City, where the bank is headquartered, and to name Zavala.

Monex said in a statement that it’s looking into accusations against Zavala: “Legal action is continuing in the case, and details cannot be disclosed so as not to hinder the investigation.” But Zavala hasn’t been charged, and declined to comment: “By instruction of my lawyers I cannot say anything. Goodbye.” Zavala’s mother claims her daughter is taking the fall.

Other Americans and foreigners whose Monex bank accounts were emptied include:

  • Kenneth Karger, a retired dentist in Fort Worth with property in Mexico, says he stopped getting full statements from Monex after last June. Later, Karger went through statements he retrieved from Monex and found unauthorized withdrawals and wire transfers. In all, Monex owes him about $400,000. A notarized letter that Karger’s attorney sent to top Monex executives on April 15 lists 12 allegations of fraud, including transferring money to people whom the depositors didn’t know, making unauthorized investments, and changing account login information.
  • Howard Haynes, 83, moved to San Miguel 22 years ago from Kansas City, Mo. After Zavala stopped returning his calls in December, Monex told Haynes his account, which Zavala had said held a substantial sum, had less than $13,000. Haynes says almost all of his money were transferred — without his authorization — to people he didn’t know, to a new Monex account. Then the money disappeared. Monex says it owes him only the money currently in the account.
  • Alysann Posner, a former vice president of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange who lives in San Miguel, says she had trouble getting timely statements from Monex since she opened her account four years ago. On Dec. 18 she tried to transfer her funds to another bank, but was told the account and that of her 86-year-old mother were reduced to almost nothing. Monex has offered her about 60% of what she believes she is owed and she’s suing Monex in Mexican courts.
  • Cory Gray, 86, says she opened a Monex account six years ago and recently had a tough time getting regular statements. She last heard from Zavala on Dec. 18 and was later told by Monex that she has next to nothing in her account. Monex offered her 70¢ on the dollar. She took it, afraid that fighting Monex would leave her with nothing.
  • Bruce Brown, a retired sound engineer from Australia, says he got his full $250,000 back after filing a complaint against Zavala with the Procuraduria General de Justicia. But after Brown got his check, a Monex representative called, said the bank had overpaid, and asked for $50,000. “I told them to shove it,” Brown says.

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~Eowyn

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William
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William

Rather troubling that this should be happening with a bank this big. I guess the takeaway is don’t have money in Mexican banks. Just the name Monex seems to say Unadulterated Greed-crazed Predatory Capitalism

Auntie Lulu
Guest
Auntie Lulu

I don’t want to sound hard-hearted, but frankly, I fail to understand why any American would choose to move to Mexico when everything we hear is about how crime ridden their society is in general. I would not for anything trust any Mexican company for any reason, but particularly I would not cut loose of my money and expect Mexican personnel to watch over it. Perhaps I am just ultra suspicious. I think Americans who choose to move South of our boarder really think they are going to live the high life, in villas, with servants taking care of their… Read more »

Lophatt
Member
Lophatt

I’ve known a few of these. Some go to Belize, others to Mexico. It’s fine when it is, not so fine when its not! Think of every silly stereotype movie you’ve seen, then multiply that and its pretty close. For someone to live there “successfully” you’ve got to be on top of your game every minute. I’ve met some very strange people in Mexico. There is a lot of wealth for some. Those who have wealth must hire guards to help them keep it. Those who don’t have wealth are always trying to take it away from someone else. It… Read more »

Lophatt
Member
Lophatt

I have to ask. How many times a day do you get overcome by the urge to put your money in a Mexican bank? That’s right up there with sending your money to the “Nigerian prince” that called you at dinner time.

Auntie Lulu
Guest
Auntie Lulu

Lophatt . . . I will be laughing all day over that comment! Thanks for the chuckle.

Orpheus
Guest
Orpheus

Almost every company you know and love is now a ‘Mexican company’. Coca cola, Oreo, you name it it is now being made in Mexico. I don’t quite understand the hostility, but at least you are aware of it.

kjf
Guest
kjf

Its a (((bank))) of course your money is gone

Alma
Member
Alma

To them it is not stealing. As Mexico keeps moving to the left, they need the money to subvert the illegals coming in this country and undermine our government. Nothing good has ever come from Mexico, they envy us, they hate us and would be their biggest triumph to see the illegals turn us into a poor nation. Good luck to those that lost their money but they are not going to receive a penny back, EVER.

Jackie Puppet
Member

My first thought is that the $$$$$$ was stolen to help finance the slow invasion across our border.

whirlwinder
Guest
whirlwinder

My mother-in-law moved to Mexico in the 70’s and was caught in one of their perpetual money devaluations. She lost 20% of her life savings and soon returned to America, sadder but wiser. Now, the Mexican banks are getting bolder by confiscating entire accounts without warning or any notification.

This is what tyrant states do.

William
Member
William

And it’s not just in Mexico. They call these account confiscations “bail-ins”

DCG
Admin

Why would anyone want to retire to Mexico?

I lived there for a year back in the early 80s (went to the University of Mexico for a year). It was a sh*thole then and is even a bigger, and more dangerous, one now.

Numerous times I had to pay off the policia to avoid going to jail. After all, I was an Americano and obviously had big bucks.

Guess the jefes have figured out that robbing the bank accounts pays much better than local bribes.

Yiddish Lion
Guest
Yiddish Lion

If you are dumb enough to go live in a third world shithole and think you are going to retire there safely and comfortably, then I have little sympathy for you.

Doc
Guest
Doc

Mexico is now, and always has been, a bandit nation and a nation of bandits. I’ve traveled there extensively in the sixties, and I spent part of my youth living a stone’s throw from the border.

Alma
Member
Alma

As Mexico keeps moving to the left, they need the money to subvert the illegals coming in this country and undermine our government. Mexico hates us, and they won’t hesitate to do in their power to drive us down and become a poor nation.

GRIZZ
Guest
GRIZZ

Messican courts……that’s a joke in itself

Alej
Guest
Alej

Put your life savings in a third-world bank, and expect to be treated like a human being ?