We sort of knew it, but there’s now evidence to prove it, some 900 pages in fact which show executive agencies illegally acting as judge, jury and executioner according to newly unsealed emails and depositions.
“This is not a small-dollar lending story; this is a story of government agencies debasing their missions through the abuse of power,” says Dennis Shaul, chief executive of the Community Financial Services Association of America.
Shaul and others have filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming “those at the very highest levels of the Department of Justice, FDIC and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency target[ed] customers of regulated banks based on their personal bias.”
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in particular is singled out for criticism of acting unlawfully by abusing their regulatory powers. Shaul says:
“FDIC Chicago Regional Director Anthony Lowe recounted in a deposition a conversation with top FDIC officials in which a directive was given to all regional directors that ‘if a bank was found to be involved in payday lending, someone was going to be fired.’ Lowe subsequently used his power over banks in his region to ensure banking relationships with small-dollar lenders were terminated.”
Moreover, Lowe says the Chairman of FDIC stated: “if an institution in their region was facilitating payday lending, the Regional Director should require the institution to submit a plan for exiting the business.”
The claimants say Operation Chokepoint, a campaign targeting the payday lending industry, was “a clandestine pressure campaign, carried out by the banking regulators at the FDIC and OCC through backroom meetings, threatening letters, and whispered threats, all in pursuit of a single-minded purpose: to cast payday lending as a ‘high-risk,’ ‘dirty business,’ and to ‘stop [supervised] banks from facilitating’ the industry by all ‘available means’…
The FDIC threatened some banking officials with criminal prosecution if they persisted in banking payday lenders.”
Payday lending is a lawful business that provides short term loans at a high interest rate with FDDIC and OCC stating that “there is no FDIC ‘campaign’ against payday lenders.”
They claim it was due to anti-money-laundering compliance concerns, but Shaul says: “Those involved in Operation Choke Point demonstrated a blatant disregard for the rule of law and due process, as well as the U.S. regulatory system.”
A number of crypto and blockchain businesses have likewise claimed to face significant difficulties in keeping or in opening a bank account.
Ameen Soleimani, CEO of SpankChain, says “We’ve had our SpankChain bank accounts shut down a few times now because of the banking prejudice against the adult industry and crypto.
I started out bold and named the company ‘SpankChain, LLC’, but I’ve since learned why everyone else isn’t bold, and changed the name.”
Lane Rettig, an ethereum developer working on eWASM, says: “Crypto NYC is a nonprofit and doesn’t touch crypto at all, and every bank we spoke to refused to bank us. #UnbankTheBanked.”
“Crypto NYC is a 100% blockchain-focused community, coworking space, and studio based in NYC,” they say.
Why on earth would a co-working space not be provided a bank account is not at all clear, with the claimed evidence so showing that the banking system is being politicized by effectively choking perfectly legitimate businesses, so in effect usurping Congress while arguably breaching the constitution.