Help me understand these bank wire instructions
September 23, 2016 4:53 PM   Subscribe

The business is in Puerto Rico, but the bank they use doesn't have any branches in the mainland U.S.

Friend of mine is working with a highly recommended law office in Puerto Rico which uses Scotia bank. A popular bank in several countries, but the only U.S. branches are in Puerto Rico and none are near us in the mainland.

This person doesn't have bank account due to an intense phobia of keeping money in any bank. (To my knowledge they are working with a therapist to rectify this and other intense fears). He is freaking out now because he tried to use Western Union to wire the money and apparently they don't wire to businesses unless the business has a western union account code or something. I offered that he could use my bank account to make payments if it comes to that, though I'd prefer it if he was able to do it on his own without the use of my account so that I don't have to deal with the hassle of various payments throughout this year.

Looking at these wiring instructions sent by the law office, it almost seems to me that they are affilitated with Chase bank. If so that would make things easier because then he could just walk into a chase bank and deposit money straight into the business's account without the use of my account.... but we went into Chase bank and the representative seemed confused over the wiring instructions and told us to come back with a Chase bank account #.

The instructions are written as follows:

JP Morgan Chase Bank
One Chase Plaza, NYC
ABA#: (.........) - SWIFT: CHASUS33

For credit to:
The Bank of Novia Scotia, (address in San Juan PR)
ABA Code / Routing number: (.........)
Account #: (.........)
Swift Code: (..........)

For further credit to:
(Law Office name)
Account #: (...........)

I don't understand why it mentions Chase at the top when the bank it's apparently credited to is the bank of Nova Scotia ie Scotiabank. The representative at the Chase branch we went to didn't seem to have any idea what to do when we said we wanted to deposit some money into the bank account. Surely Chase must be involved somehow and going to a chase bank should be of some help, yes? Did the representative just not know what he was doing?

I've never wired money myself so I have no idea what to make of these instructions either. Is the money first going to a Chase account and then to a Scotiabank account? If that's so, then why isn't there a Chase bank account # listed?
posted by manderin to Work & Money (10 answers total)
My bank (Schwab) also uses a Chase account for international wire transfers. These instructions look exactly like the instructions that I've used successfully in the past to get money wired into my account.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:55 PM on September 23, 2016

I'm guessing that JPMC is sending wires on behalf of Scotia Bank, acting as a correspondent bank.

I wouldn't expect the average JPMC teller to be able to help. The expected workflow here is something like customer gives wire instructions to Scotia Bank > Scotia sends wire info to JPMC > JPMC sends wire to receiving bank > counterparts receives wire.
posted by bunderful at 4:56 PM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

If it's acting as a corresponding bank does this mean we can go into a Chase branch and deposit the money directly into this "Bank of Novia Scotia" account?
posted by manderin at 4:59 PM on September 23, 2016

Sorry, I just edited for clarity.
posted by bunderful at 5:01 PM on September 23, 2016

I'm not sure if you can make a direct deposit into the Scotia Bank account. You'd have to fill out a deposit slip, complete with the account number. That does work in some cases but I've also known people to be turned away when they tried to deposit funds into an account on which they were not a signer.

If you want to go that route, you should start by talking with whomever the funds are going to at Scotiabank.

However, Scotiabank using JPMC as a correspondent bank does not necessarily mean that they have a deposit account set up with them. If they do, they could have several. Most tellers are likely to want more information than "we want to put this in the Scotiabank account." They can't randomly pick an account and drop the funds in.
posted by bunderful at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2016

Also, I would be pretty cautious about sending funds on behalf of another person who isn't a member of your immediate family.

It's not the advice you asked for, but in your shoes I'd let your friend sort this out for themselves.
posted by bunderful at 5:17 PM on September 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Those are pretty standard looking wire instructions. I used to work for a bank doing wires (both domestic and international), and have also done some in my personal life to pay for vacation rentals abroad. Forget about anything to do w/ you interacting with Chase on a consumer end to make things easier. Their function in this is just as a conduit.

A) MoneyGram is along the lines of Western Union and there's a chance that would work for your friend. He or she could also approach a brick and mortar regular bank about sending a wire without necessarily opening an account.

B) If you sending the money for him or her seems legit in your gut, I found a relatively pain-free (and affordable) way to do this kind of transaction. They do have a way to annotate who and where the true funds are coming from (your friend) and you should absolutely include that info to protect you from charges of money laundering.

If you want to go a brick and mortar route, your regular bank should be able to send this for you, but (a) the fees will be a lot more and (b) the representative you work with may (with some reason) get the heebeejeebees about how you are doing this on behalf of a friend.
posted by eelgrassman at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding others -- My wiring instructions look similar to get my money from a US-based brokerage account into my Canadian bank account; they go through JP Morgan Chase as an intermediary. However I don't think this means I could go into JP Morgan Chase and deposit money - I don't have any account # with them; rather my receiving Canadian bank has an agreement with Chase to forward wired money to my Canadian bank account.
posted by cgg at 6:00 PM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

according to this western union faq they can work with a swift code. that's the CHASUS33 elided code (for the final destination) above.

i wouldn't be surprised if you got bad information from the wu (or your friend didn't understand that they had the relevant code). can you try a different branch?
posted by andrewcooke at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2016

Scotiabank's website says that they offer wire service through Western Union. So andrewcooke may be right and another branch visit could yield different results.
posted by bunderful at 6:07 PM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

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