A Transatlantic Trend: Banks in UK and US Are Closing Customer Accounts With Little to No Warning Or Explanation

“The escalation team just reached out to me. They told me that the account was being shut down, and they wouldn’t give me a reason. I asked them if they would ever give me a reason. They said no.”

This eerily Kafkaesque account is from California-based writer, activist, and social and political commentator Elad Nehorai. At the beginning of this week, he learnt that his bank of many years, Bank of America, had closed his account with no warning or explanation. He couldn’t touch his funds and he had no idea why. Nehorai posted a thread on Twitter that went viral and ultimately prompted the TBTF lender to partially back down. As Nehorai has come to realise through this ordeal, he is not the only person to have suffered this fate (h/t to Lambert for bringing this to my attention):

In the end, Bank of America removed the hold on Nehorai’s account, though it is, to all intents and purposes, still closed. As Nehorai notes, many other people who do not have his public reach or social capital have not been so lucky:

The responses to Nehorai’s twitter thread suggest that this “horror show” is anything but a freak occurrence. And it is not new: CBS published an article in June 2022 about a woman who was shut out of her 17-year account with Bank of America just before undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer, and for certain minority groups, in particular Muslims, this sort of thing has been happening for over a decade. Nor is it exclusive to the US.

Farage Furore

At the end of June, as many readers no doubt know, the retired British politician Nigel Farage went public with the new that Coutts, one of the UK’s oldest private banks, had closed his account without warning. While Farage said the bank had given no reason for the action, he believed it was because of his former designation as a “politically exposed person” (PEP). As the BBC notes, PEPs generally pose a greater risk for financial institutions as they are considered to be more exposed to potential involvement in corrupt practices due to their position and the influence they may wield.

The story quickly went viral. Many of Farage’s fiercest detractors celebrated the fact that “Mr Brexit” was finally paying a price for the damage he is believed to have caused. Others were more attuned to the broader risks and dangers posed by the spectre of politically motivated bank account closures:

In the resulting furore, Coutts told the BBC that the real reason for its decision was that Farage’s account didn’t have enough money in it — an allegation that Farage roundly denies. This prompted a flurry of calls to the broadcaster from other Coutts customers who said that their accounts are also below the necessary threshold yet they have not been threatened with account closure. As BBC reporter Simon Jack noted, the bank clearly has “a lot of discretion” when it comes to these sorts of actions and decisions:

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the former Brexit Party leader says he was also rejected by seven other banks when he approached them about becoming a customer. Natwest, Coutts’ parent bank, apparently offered him a standard account, but according to Farage only after he went public with his story. Also, Farage claims that several family members have apparently had their accounts shut after Chris Bryant, a Labour MP, “falsely” accused Farage of taking money from Russia.

In the wake of the Farage furore, the UK government has launched a probe into whether banks are closing accounts of people who are “politically exposed.” But the focus appears to be exclusively on elected officials and their families.

An even more bizarre story surfaced just over a week ago about an Anglican minister whose account with the Yorkshire Building Society, the UK’s third largest building society, had also been closed, just days after he had raised concerns about his local branch’s promotion of transgenderism. Speaking to the London Times, Rev Richard Fothergill said:

“They are a financial house – they are not there to do social engineering. I think they should concentrate their efforts on managing money, instead of promoting LGBT ideology.

The Yorkshire Building Society said it does “not close savings accounts based on different opinions regarding beliefs.” But it added (emphasis my own): “We would only make the difficult decision to close a savings account if a customer is rude, abusive, violent or discriminates in any way, based on the specific facts and behaviour in each case.

In other words, if a customer’s opinions or behaviour are deemed by the bank to be discriminatory in any way, it can close their account. As in the US, the reasons for an account closure are often a mystery to the customers affected, though political or ideological motivations appear to play a part in some cases.

A Clear-Cut Example

The most clear-cut example of this was the Canadian government’s decision, in February 2022, to invoke the emergencies act to compel banks to seize the accounts of the freedom convoy protesters who had blocked several key border crossings. According to the minutes of a meeting between Canada’s Economy Minister, Vice President and WEF board member Chrystia Freeland and senior bank executives the day before the act was invoked, one CEO flagged concerns that if banks were forced to close accounts, it could be seen as the sector “being used as an arm of the government” or even “a political weapon.”

In the past year, Paypal has banned the accounts of the UK-based Free Speech Union, its founder Toby Young and his online publication, the Daily Sceptic, for purportedly breaching its policies against hate speech. It also closed the account of UsForThem, which campaigned against school closures during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdowns. Worse still, the fintech giant surreptitiously slipped a line into its terms of service granting itself the right to fine customers $2,500 for spreading misinformation. When the news got out, provoking a huge public backlash, PayPal claimed it had all been a big mistake.

Of course, as NC readers EssCetera and Rev Kev point out below, Paypal has a long, storied history of doing this sort of thing, going all the way back to its freezing of Wikileaks’ account in 2010. And banks in the US have been closing down the accounts of workers in the porn industry since at least 2014 (h/t Michaelmas).

It is hard not to see this issue becoming a bigger problem if/when central banks begin launching central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), as I warn in my book Scanned:

Combining digital currencies with digital IDs while phasing out, or even banning, the use of cash would grant governments and central banks the ability not only to track every purchase we make (and made in the past) but also to determine what we can and cannot spend our money on. They could also prevent certain “undesirable” people from buying anything. Anyone with a blocking notice attached to their digital identity would “thus be unable to do many of the most basic things independently,” says [German financial journalist Norbert] Häring.

In a CBDC-based economy [some] commercial banks will preserve some of their functions while no doubt carving out new ones. As envisaged for Britcoin and the digital euro, commercial banks will essentially administer CBDC accounts for their customers, which will essentially function like a trust or securities account. And they will continue in their role as executors of the financial regulators’ Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols.

All Incentives “Are Toward Closing Accounts”

There are, of course, other purely non-political reasons why banks are closing more and more of their customers’ accounts. In some cases, the accounts have been inactive for too long. Also, failure to provide personal, business, fiscal or financial information requested by your account can lead to account closure. KYC rules and regulations, many of them well-intended, have proliferated over the past decade and a half and banks have little choice but to comply. There has also been an explosion in financial fraud since the pandemic-induced lockdowns and work-from-home orders triggered a surge in digital payments, as the New York Times reported in April:

With fraudulent activity on the rise and exploding during the pandemic, some banks are taking an even harder look at their customers’ transactions — and closing their accounts when they feel that it’s necessary.

Because financial institutions have a front-row seat for watching the country’s cash flow, financial institutions are obligated to alert regulators and law enforcement through a Suspicious Activity Report if there’s irregular behavior that they cannot easily explain.

Not all reports lead to account closures, and not all closures lead to reports. But if banks fail to report suspicious activity and regulators discover problematic transactions later, banks and their compliance employees are potentially on the hook for all manner of penalties.

“So all their incentives are toward closing accounts,” according to an explanation of SARs on the website of the Bank Policy Institute, a research and advocacy organization that represents mid- and large-size banks.

Financial institutions filed 1.4 million of these SARs in 2021, according to a bureau of the Treasury Department. That was nearly 70 percent higher than the 839,314 filed in 2014.

It’s a similar story in the UK. As the Telegraph reports, high street banks rely on “vast online databases that scrutinise millions of transactions around the globe,” including World-Check Risk Intelligence, which is owned by Refinitiv, a member of the London Stock Exchange Group, to determine which accounts to close:

A bank can close anyone’s person’s account if it suspects they have committed, or been involved in fraudulent or illegal activity. But also if they violate the terms of the account, leave it dormant, or even for no specified reason.

Many banks use third-party databases and credit reference groups to gather information on people they suspect of illegal activities such as fraud or terrorism. The databases also detail those who could be under sanctions, or “politically exposed” people who are vulnerable to bribery.

These databases monitor British customers and hand information to banks so they can decide whether to close an account if someone is deemed to be too much of a risk to the bank and its reputation – or who has a bad credit rating.

The problem is that these databases are far from infallible. In fact, most of the customers identified “are probably innocent”, according to the article in the New York Times:

A 2018 study from the Bank Policy Institute found that a median of just 4 percent of 640,000 suspicious activity reports from a sample of large banks warranted a follow-up from law enforcement, according to the research, which examined 16 million alerts.

The Canary in the Coal Mine

As I mentioned before, this is not a new trend. In fact, individual Muslims and Muslim groups in the UK have been losing access to their bank accounts for over a decade. The media’s response has been total silence and disinterest, reports veteran journalist Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye:

Every major British media outlet has reported the revelation from British populist politician Nigel Farage that his bank accounts are to be closed without notice or explanation.

The Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent. Mail, Express, Evening Standard, Spectator and others have awarded Farage ample space. He’s compared modern Britain to communist China – and claimed that without a bank account: “I won’t be able to exist or function”.

This is more than empty hyperbole.

In the modern world, a bank account matters as much as electricity or running water. Without one you cannot travel overseas, you feel like a criminal and normal life becomes impossible.

I know this because, over the last decade, I have spoken at great length to dozens of people who have had their bank accounts removed without explanation – the same fate as Farage.

One lost his job, another saw his life’s work, a charity, wiped away. Yet another, a proud man, broke down in tears as he described the humiliation inflicted upon him and his family…

I have written up many of these stories in Middle East Eye. Not one of them has been followed up in the British media, or taken up as a cause by politicians.

No prizes for guessing why not. The individuals concerned, though mainly British citizens, were Muslims.

The victims included the World Uyghur Congress, which raises awareness about the plight of Chinese Muslims; Interpal, one of the most prominent British charities providing relief and development aid to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza; Anas Altikriti, chief executive of the Cordoba Foundation; and the Palestinian Solidarity Foundation, which received letters from their bank cancelling their bank accounts, with no reason or right of appeal.

When it comes to financial deplatforming, says Oborne, “politically engaged Muslims” were the “canary in the coal mine”. And since nobody spoke up in their defence, the financial deplatforming has continued to grow:

Ever since Tony Blair joined George Bush’s so-called “war on terror”, British Muslims have been the testing ground for sinister authoritarianism.

As I demonstrated in my book, The Fate of Abraham, politically engaged Muslims were the first to suffer from cancel culture, having been systematically excluded from British life for many years.

Nobody protested.

They were the first to suffer from financial attack in the shape of bank account closures. Nobody protested. Muslims are, in short, the canary in the coal mine.

Now, it seems that we are all fair game.

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  1. digi_owl

    The secular excommunication grows in reach.

    I’m tempted to say it all trace back to card companies blacklisting porn sites unless they sanitized their library, though it escalated massively when Canada froze trucker protest accounts. And this is a continuation of that.

    I have off late wondered what the response had been back in the day if rather than go for a government ban, that naturally ran face first into the first amendment, when Playboy launched, the busybodies had tried to get banks to refuse service to Hefner and co.

    1. Steven A

      Retail cannabis outlets in the US have also been shut out of the banking system, including credit and debit card processing. As a result they are more exposed to robbery since they have to deal strictly with cash.

      Some card companies, notably American Express, shut down accounts of porn sites partially because an outsize proportion of disputes arose from transactions with those sites.

  2. maray

    Several years ago, Nationwide in the UK closed my account and kept all the money, the Ombudsman told me that ‘banks don’t lie’ and they can do what they want to. Lost all my money

  3. griffen

    Lack of activity on an account is one harbinger. Sweep money out, sweep money in, of some nature and you may likely avert any potential shut down. First hand, I have also received an email notice about “take action soon, lack of activity”. Fine, move funds into or out of said account today. My next activity ought to move everything over to a credit union and that’s on the agenda (I’m the proverbial tortoise to the hare in this race to change stuff around, fwiw).

    Accounts that are smaller potatoes to giant large institutions, well they cost even if it’s a share of minimum pennies on the dollar. They let you know, we cease at pretending to care about our customers. One more reason, among many, to fume and yell at clouds for the lack of real enforcement actions after the Global Cluster Muck of 2007 – 2009.

  4. Stephen

    Exactly. Peter Tatchell’s tweet is a smart comment: one has to object to this, whomever it is aimed at.

    Makes me think of the Niemoller poem:

    “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    Thinking of Muslims, I recall that a while ago the British government was stripping people of citizenship who allegedly were involved with ISIS. That was wrong too. All of these extra judicial administrative, and non appealable ways to “punish” people are wrong. The west does look more and more like the things it claims to oppose. This is all about power.

    1. digi_owl

      > The west does look more and more like the things it claims to oppose.

      Because there is no credible alternative.

      After WW2, the nations not under soviet control needed to appear better than communism. Enter the Marshall plan etc.

      But now there is no big soviet threat any more. So there is no need for the pretense.

      1. ambrit

        Ah, but the true critical word in your comment is “credible.”
        I have been involved in several small scale barter transactions over the past year. This is a change from the previous standard. So, “Systeme D” is alive and well.
        The next step in this purported jackbooted march “into the glorious future” is the seizing of major assets from the “undesirables,” which very often coincides with the “deplorables” as a class. This can include one’s “access” to medical treatment and needed drugs. Already, American domestic police practice a form of legal brigandage known as “Asset Forfeiture.”
        See: https://www.justice.gov/afms/about-asset-forfeiture-program-afp
        The tools for a full on Authoritarian Police State are in place. We may not be all the way there, but I suspect that “we ain’t seen nothing yet.”

        1. JBird4049

          Yes, the police steal more wealth from Americans than burglars. Both in applications and recertification for aid and in my taxes, there was a section about barter, which was being treated as income, taxable, or as assets to determine qualifications with the IRS, educational financial aid, and Californian administered state and federal public aid programs doing so.

          Your stuff, whatever it is, they want it. Even if it something they can’t use themselves, they can use it compel obedience and for you not to do Bad Things or Thoughts, whatever they might be.

          Marijuana dealers, gun seller, pro-life, pro-choice, religious leaders have all dealt with or been threaten with financial depersonalization here in the Land of the Free.

          If you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide, citizen, or so say the agents of the state.

    2. .human

      I don’t recall when or where I encountered one of my favorite observations: As the Iron Curtain came down in the East it went up in the West.

      1. digi_owl

        I seem to recall Bono of all people once argued for a western equivalent of the Chinese firewall, in order to curtail copyright infringement (or piracy as they like to call it, yarr).

  5. GramSci

    When my mother-in-law died twenty years ago, the family was somewhat aghast to find $400,000 in small bills in a valise in her closet. Besides her rather run-down house, this was the full extent of her estate.

    Of course her depression-era fears were rather different from ours, but I’m gaining a new respect for her wisdom.

    1. digi_owl

      I recall one old relative used to hide her pension money among the dishcloths, until it was decreed that all pensioners needed to get a bank account.

  6. l

    I don’t think I would feel too bad about the US funded “World Uuyghur Congress” losing access to money

    1. Deprotonated

      Yes, exactly. WUC is a US State department creation based in Washington DC. If they had a bank account closed it was probably a Chinese bank.

  7. The Rev Kev

    I’m seeing a methodology here. If the State wants to censor you and remove what you say from the internet, they will not do so themselves as legally it might have to be justified but will instead outsource it to social media corporations to do. And to make sure they do it right, you have whole swathes of so-called ex-intelligence officers that go to work in executive positions in those social media corporations who set up channels with the FBI, CIA, etc. And so here if they want to take down somebody, the best way to do so in a modern society is to cancel their banking as how do you operate to any sort of level without a bank to be paid or to pay others? So of course they will not do so themselves but the word gets out to the banks that they want some people debanked and if they themselves want to debank other people for having the wrong social opinion, well, the State will look the other way while they do so. J. K. Rowlings beware. Of course there is a word to describe an authoritarian government where the State and the Corporations work hand in glove and it looks like this is what we are evolving towards. Come to think of it, perhaps we should be looking to see how many “ex-intelligence” officers have gone to work in major banks like has happened with social media corporations.

    1. Nick Corbishley Post author

      You’re definitely onto something, Rev. In my book I cite a section from a very prescient 2019 article by Mike Elgan in Fast Company titled “Uh Oh: Silicon Valley Is Building a Chinese-style Social Credit System.” In it, Elgan warns that the most disturbing attribute of any social credit system, whether run by a government or a private-sector company, is not its invasiveness but the fact that its extralegal:

      Crimes are punished outside the legal system, which means no presumption of innocence, no legal representation, no judge, no jury, and often no appeal. In other words, it’s an alternative legal system where the accused has fewer rights.

      Social credit systems are an end-run around the pesky complications of the legal system. Unlike China’s government policy, the social credit system emerging in the US is enforced by private companies. If the public objects to how these laws are enforced, it can’t elect new rule makers.

      An increasing number of societal “privileges” related to transportation, accommodation, communication and the rates we pay for services (like insurance) are either controlled by technology companies or affected by how we use technology services. And Silicon Valley’s rules for being allowed to use their services are getting stricter.

      If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of midemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

      In other words, in the future, law enforcement may be determined less by the Constitution and legal code and, and more by end-user license agreements.

      1. Pam

        Nick, please educate yourself on what Chinese “social credit” is. It appears to be limited to a few regional government programs where people get kudos and bonuses for doing pro-social activities and vice versa. In other words, not that different from good citizenship awards in the West.

        The Middleeastern Eye citation of UWC as an example is certainly unfortunate. I don’t think banking should be denied for anyone outside of evidence that the funding will contribute directly to continued and provable criminal activity but the UWC is closely tied to the NED regime change operation against China and the violent East Turkistan separtists, most recently seen in Syria and Ukraine. So the case there is actually arguable though I don’t think it’s direct enough to justify freezing the account.

        China is by no means perfect, as plenty of Chinese people within China will tell you. But they’re also overwhelming satisfied with their government, at a level far higher than any Western government has mustered in many decades. Please stop using it as a byword for state oppression and totalitarian governance.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Please stop using it as a byword for state oppression and totalitarian governance.

          Your social and familia connections, unapproved actions or words, jaywalking, any of that can trigger restrictions on movement and money, denial of loans, increases in interest rates, your actions, whatever they might be, scrutinized, and if thought appropriate, broadcasted. However, if you do and say what is approved including cutting the wrong people from your life, you get rewarded. Not for any crimes on the book, necessarily, but what the camera sees and what “they” deem inappropriate or appropriate.

          An unseen, uncontrolled Big Brother system of surveillance using rewards and punishments. Respectfully, it is a totalitarian social credit system.

          1. Merf56

            You really need to to talk to middle class Chinese living in China JBird. This ‘social credit’ stuff is pure made up propaganda by the US. I urge you most strongly to travel around China- it is a lovely vacation destination with much to see, and talk to random people. They will tell you openly what they like and dislike about their governance and will also tell you the same about ours.
            Please don’t continue to fall prey to blatant propaganda – learn for yourself. We travel to China frequently as my dh does business there and we follow that business with a holiday where I fly in to join him.

            1. JBird4049

              Let’s be clear. I already know about American propaganda being as I am an American in the belly of the eagle and have been suffering from and reading about it for some decades; just like the American Empire’s government, the Chinese Empire’s government lies constantly, and just as both the Americans and Canadians to their great shame attempted and almost succeeded in committing cultural genocide, after pulling back from not quite complete biological genocide, so too are the Chinese. Land expropriation, beatings, rape, murder, child abuse, and violent, brutal suppression of language, religion, and culture using some excuse of civilizing the barbarians when really they want to steal the land and its resources and can’t be bothered to be human.

              The reason I bring up all this, besides the curtain of silence imposed on the Uyghurs and the Tibetans and the constant lies told of their oppression much as was done in North America, is that the Chinese government does this to their own people. The empire always comes home or is exported, and what is done domestically is done on foreign lands. And much like how Tiananmen Square has been suppressed anything else that might possibly be inconvenient knowledge is also suppressed. Just as America is not agreement capable just as Vladimir Putin said, so too China is incapable of telling the truth or rather, as the saying goes, they have cried wolf far too many times, meaning when they do tell the truth they can’t be believed. Too great an emphasis is placed on maintaining appearances even if false instead of truthfulness. It is their own fault and yes the Chinese social credit system is a tool being used by totalitarian empire. And to fair, the whole American regime also lies always.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        years ago, when i discovered Mencius Moldbug/Curtis Yarvin…and rmmaged around in horror at what he was proposing….well…this whole mess is a part of it.
        his vision(sic) includes the proposal that in future, one would no longer be a citizen of a state…but of a corporation…thus abstracting any rights and privileges formerly enjoyed and expected away from a geographical basis.
        ie: the privatisation of everything…and he attempted to sell this as a Good Thing…even a Necessary Thing.
        of course, since then he’s become the Court Philosopher to one Peter Thiel…so i’m sure theres nothing to worry about…

        1. Jokerstein

          Bruce Schneier was talking about the new digital feudalism over a decade ago, when he suggested that one would choose to tie one’s online life (and hence life) to Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc.

    2. tiebie66

      The methodology I see here is that it is one small step from Know Your Customer (KYC) to Control Your Customer (CYC).

    3. digi_owl

      I seem to recall seeing the claim that as the 2008 finance crisis was unfolding, US banks were told to quietly allow deposits from drug cartels.

  8. EssCetera

    Paypal has a longer history of doing this, this goes way back to freezing the accounts of Occupy Wall Street activists. It’s the reason I refuse to use Paypal.

    I’ve had my bank account frozen by the government about a decade ago for non-payment of something like .40 cents in taxes. I had settled the account earlier but not before they had sent the order, it then took several days of trying for the government to reverse the order and for the hold to be lifted. Fortunately for me, I had been speaking to the same guy who issued the order, had his name and contact, he was apologetic, explained the hold had already been sent, was just following procedure, was trying to reverse the damage as soon as I settled. The bank tellers were also apologetic, explained what was happening, that a fax was sitting in an office somewhere, needed to be moved from this tray to that tray, etc. In all honesty if they receive an order from government, and I suspect other agencies, they don’t have a choice, they follow procedure and the banks themselves may not be clear on the reasons for the hold.

    But I think what we’re going to see is that banks only want affluent clients, will start closing accounts not meeting criteria. I think that’s the larger concern.

      1. Candide

        About a year ago, ConsortiumNews.com lost its Paypal stream and presumably the $ amount in process. It’s had to turn to other avenues for support. It’s a direct act of censorship against this crucial investigative journalism project and a warning to all other such efforts.

      2. mehitabel

        PayPal’s algorithms search for anything they deem suspicious in the message line – such as place names in Middle Eastern countries. Happened to me once – that’s why I think they blocked a payment I was sending (philatelic purchase) – but the PayPal rep wouldn’t / couldn’t tell me why they did it. Took a couple of weeks to clear it up. PayPal has become an unofficial enforcement arm of the deep state.

      1. digi_owl

        Ding. In recent year the loudest dissenters have been people with F U money, like Musk or Farage or Carlson, because they could not be threatened into silence by getting them fired etc. But now even banks are folding to pressure, and that is quite the escalation.

        1. caucus99percenter

          A clear sign that The Powers That Be are now scared by the sight of more and more public figures with F U money standing their ground re their political views and becoming “another Trump” / another J. K. Rowling, etc.?

          Not as easily fired and crushed financially as small-business proprietors and university professors.

  9. Michaelmas

    This has actually been happening for at least a decade, but increasing in proportions recently. From 2013 —


    And whatever else the TPTB, it’s the reason they want CBDCs: for the social and political control

    For an individual,the only foolproof response is to have multiple banking identities in multiple sovereign state jurisdictions. But that’s not going to be an option available to most people.

  10. Candide

    Weeks ago I cleared out business equipment and junk metal. A recycling company paid ~ $150 for the load. I took the check to the nearby bank they deal with. Even though I have a credit card under that bank’s name, their rule of only cashing checks for customers with checking accounts at their bank was about to subject the “draw” to a noticeable percentage of the check, if they would cash it at all. This pattern means even a person scavenging aluminum cans by the road can face refusal to cash the check or will lose an amount determined by the bank. CBDC? Worse and worse.

  11. John

    Decentralization is the only solution. We need to break up these organizations, because right now if I have a problem with one, I have no alternative. In a decentralized world, I would simply go somewhere else, (as would every one else) which would be a huge disincentive on those who would try to impose their will on others.

    I have a belief in humanity, as in my experience, most people mean well and do not knowingly harm other people. The issue is when those who do not mean well end up in positions of power and cannot be dislodged. Downstream from that is cynicism, disempowerment, and disengagement of society because the individual can’t do anything anyways.

  12. Thuto

    I think it was Peter Drucker who said the worst thing a company can do is get involved in politics. Today, under pressure from consultants assuring them there’s an empirical basis for nailing their colours to a mast on one end of the political spectrum, companies are picking a side in political battles being waged in society in the hope of pleasing millennials and gen-z who, according to the “data”, prefer to buy from “brands that stand for something”. This genuflecting to ideology and the corporate political partisanship that results from it apparently drive brand loyalty and drops bigger profits into the bottom line.

    Financial deplatforming is the most pernicious effect of this sweeping phenomenon and when the media greet it with radio silence and political rivals with an outpouring of glee because it’s someone they don’t like in its crosshairs, then ordinary citizens who typically have no recourse when such injustice is meted out should feel a chill down their spines.

  13. Arizona Slim

    I just tried to make a donation to a political candidate via his website. Although I carefully entered my information, the transaction never went through. No “thank you” page on his website, I was just bounced back to the home page.

    Wondering if the powers-that-be objected to who I was trying to support.

    1. LifelongLib

      FWIW, I’ve occasionally had attempts at website payment mysteriously fail because I didn’t tick an obscure checkbox accepting the terms of service or something. Just a suggestion — I know how frustrating this can be…

  14. observer1

    This process of erasing political adversaries or other disagreeable people by destroying their financial stability was first excoriated by William Safire in the opinion pages of the NYT sometime in the 1990s. He was pointing out Singapore’s Lee K. Yew’s propensity to go after his enemies finances because it was bloodless and someone drained of money has to worry where to find the next meal not about issues of high policy. Safire pointed out the inhumanity of it but I suspect he never thought it would migrate to our shores. Nowadays Singapore is looking not so different from us if you ignore the occasional canning.

  15. EssCetera

    You’re absolutely right, I had forgotten about that. And a quick google shows large number of lawsuits around Paypal and seized assets, still haven’t found anything around how these stories end, if anyone ever sees their funds again.

  16. EssCetera

    (Apologies for my 10:32am comment above which I misplaced, I intended it to be in response to Rev Kev’s remark about Paypal doing this to Wikileaks.)

    I had a further thought, should this closing of financial accounts become more of a prevalent problem, and it will, then to get around it people could revert to a hawala system.

    This, in turn, could get us to systems of debit/credit similar to those which predated money, or even to a more participatory form of economy, and to de-finance. I think we should do this anyway, for this reason.

  17. Mildred Montana

    No surprise that “Mr. Brexit” (Nigel Farange) is having difficulty with his bank(s). They were strongly opposed to Brexit and even went so far as to threaten to relocate:


    Of course and predictably they didn’t leave. But, that empty threat having failed to sway a democratic vote, they’ve now pulled out a different cudgel to bash someone who disagrees with them, counting (correctly) on the impunity granted them by a conniving government.

    First they came for Nigel….

  18. observer1

    Actually this thing of trying to erase political opponents seems to be part of a long process that the western political/finance powers started once they realized the Chinese system (and not only) was eating their milkshake with their huge GDP growth rates. When their concern was Japan’s growth it didn’t matter that much because we ‘owned’ Japan politically. But an ideological enemy growing at a tremendous rate became a scary proposition once someone worked the numbers and realized we would be yesterday’s news in a couple of decades if not sooner. To me that started a process of dumping western values to be more like the eastern economies so that central direction is more valued, traditional habits are devalued and institutions and the government act hand-in-glove to run (or attempt to) a command economy. Too late and anyway, Americans don’t take commands that well.

  19. Amfortas the hippie

    and…they keep the money?
    umm…isn’t that Theft?
    so the last 40 years of yammering about the “protection of property” and the holiness of contracts was not serious, after all?

    1. Kouros

      Rules based order… It was bound to come home. Like the full militarization of the polices forces in the US. The citizen is the enemy…

      The maing goal is full domestication of people. This would require less expensive means of surveillance and control… All that self-censoring needs to be instilled from the conception of a new human being…

    2. skippy

      I thought the whole 3 part series on Libertarianism via Hopple, by Philip, covered this ground well …

      In the end insurance companies will be the final arbitrators, everything will be owned, consumers will be free range chattel that pierce their ear in the door way of the market via public choice when making a transaction/contract …. all freewill[tm] like ….

  20. David in Friday Harbor

    This sort of imperious and dishonorable behavior by banking institutions does far greater damage than the harm it causes to individuals, which I personally experienced when my 91-year old father suddenly went into his death throes and Wells Fargo Bank refused to honor the Power of Attorney that he had executed in anticipation of that unpredictable but inevitable event — which they admitted was legally sufficient. When I presented perfectly executed Letters of Administration six weeks later the assistant branch manager (the manager appeared to be searching for something under her desk) casually mentioned that it was the first time in his dozen years with Wells that he hadn’t turned away an estate for technical defects — usually multiple times.

    What disturbs me most about this behavior is that it undermines our faith in institutions in general. When the bank might rob you, when the courts might take away rights you’ve enjoyed for your entire life, when the police or the power company might kill you, it stands social norms on their heads.

    Dishonorable and lawless behavior are normalized. I’m too old to pick up a brick or a gun and I don’t want to. This is what the Jackpot looks like.

  21. cnchal

    Every day I thank my lucky stars we never had children.

    It would have been impossible to protect them from the self selecting narcissist politicians and the psychopathic big government, big business terrorists giving orders.

  22. Olivier

    In France the right to a bank account is enshrined in law. What this means in practice is that if you are denied by all banks you can in the last resort apply to the Banque de France (the Central Bank), which may not refuse. See this link. It has been that way since forever. Of course the law could change in the future.

    I wonder which other countries have similar laws. Not anglo countries obviously, which as usual offer themselves as an example of how not to govern a country.

  23. XXYY

    Great article, Nick. Thanks.

    One thing that was discussed a few years ago, often in conjunction with the Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns, was the idea of having the US Post Office provide simple banking services to the population.

    The advantages at the time were mostly considered to be financial ones: lower cost services, fewer fees, and easier access via thousands of existing post office buildings throughout the country.

    But another take on that might be political. Having a banker that was not a member of the private sector would potentially change the way the bank is run. Rather than having faceless and unaccountable executives decide who could and couldn’t have a bank account. The US Post Office Bank (tm!) would presumably be run in accordance with Federal legislation written by elected officials.

    Yet another reason for this excellent idea to move forward.

  24. Chas

    After reading all this I’m going to take my money out of the bank and put it in a credit union. Then tomorrow probably I’ll read about how credit unions are closing accounts too. Another thought I had is that when you deposit money in a bank you are loaning the bank money. So if they refuse to repay the loan you can take them to court — at least theoretically. And another thought is that I’m commenting so late in the day probably no one will read this anyway.

  25. N Light N

    Recently received letter from bank – Credit Union – account warning of imminent withdrawal of funds for inactivity. Immediately closed the account, as there was nothing much to gain from retaining the account – other than useless-wasteful correspondence, free-unfiltered coffee, complementary-dysfunctional ballpoint pens, and ludicrous interest rates. What’s not to like?

    Advised (through non-pratronization and account closure) Amazon, PayPal, eBay, and many other corporate-kleptomaniacs, to frack-off long ago (by patronizing these moguls you’re subsidizing and expediting your servitude to the Usurped Scurrilous of Affliction).

    What did you expect would happen – through RICO executed dictations – from high-functioning, psychopathic-billionaires: inequitable-privatization, de-industrialization, incessant warmongering, and a strategic policy of depopulation?

    1. JustTheFacts

      Actually, that might not be wise. If all your accounts are with one bank, then if they hold your money, you’re screwed. Better have it at multiple institutions and put up with their stupidity.

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