Large money-center banks appear to be in the vanguard of a movement to build a system of personal social credit scores.
Meanwhile, British banks aren't alone. Many say that the largest U.S. financial institutions are in lockstep with UK banks in establishing political and social criteria for their customers and punishing those who don’t comply.
“Sadly, what we're seeing now with NatWest and Barclays isn't surprising,” Justin Haskins, director at the Heartland Institute, told The Epoch Times. “There is a mountain of evidence that shows many of America's largest and most powerful banks are discriminating against customers because of their ideological, social, cultural, religious, or political views.
UK Ministers Find Fault With Discriminating BanksIn contrast to the United States, where regulators have taken no action, UK ministers have stepped in to defend their constituents against political discrimination.
“Andrew Griffith, the economic secretary of the UK, met with some of the major banks recently and got them all to commit to a principle of non-discrimination, based on lawful expression,” Michael Ross, counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), told The Epoch Times.
In addition, legislation is currently in the works to ban UK banks from discriminating against customers on a political or religious basis.
“I think the point that we can all agree on is that the right to lawful freedom of speech is fundamental," UK Treasury Minister Baroness Penn stated last week. "And where that has seemed to be brought into question through the provision of services, we have cause to worry.”
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly stated that the closure of Mr. Farage’s accounts was “wrong on so many levels.”
“This completely undermines the trust we have in our banking and financial systems,” Mr. Cleverly said. “We are better than this.”
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman posted to X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter, on July 19:
“The Coutts scandal exposes the sinister nature of much of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion industry. Apparently, anyone who wants to control our borders & stop the boats can be branded ‘xenophobic’ & have their bank account closed in the name of ‘inclusivity.’”
As part of new UK regulations, banks that close customer accounts will be required to give a reason, and customers will have the right to appeal the bank’s decision. Banks that continue to discriminate may lose their licenses.
"The banking duty of confidentiality is over a hundred years old," said John Edwards, the UK's information commissioner. "It is clear that it would not permit the discussion of a customer’s personal information with the media."
US Banks Also Discriminate, Experts SayJPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, has also faced allegations of political and religious discrimination.
“Before this, there was obviously Sam Brownback and the National Committee for Religious Freedom,” he said, referring to accounts allegedly closed by JPMorgan Chase. “Chase also canceled Defense of Liberty a couple of years ago, retired [Lt. Gen.] Michael Flynn, the Family Council—all of them are designated either high risk or reputational risk.”
While the action ultimately failed to gain majority support from shareholders, Mr. Bahnsen stated: “One thing I am certain of is that the next time a bank manager decides to close an account for somebody like Ambassador Brownback, they’re going to think twice about doing it. This was covered far and wide by both the left-wing press and the right-wing press, and I do not believe it looked good upon JPMorgan."
That prompted Missouri state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick to threaten to halt state business with the bank.
In July 2021, Family Council faced a similar denial of service.
“For nearly two years, we had used this company to process donations that our supporters made to Family Council and the Education Alliance via our websites. If you gave by credit or debit card, this company handled the transaction. Without a processor, it’s impossible for a nonprofit to accept donations online.”
"A large number of our pension funds are direct shareholders of Chase, and as stewards of our states’ investment dollars, we are concerned that the company’s recent pattern of apparent politically motivated de-banking constitutes a breach of its fiduciary duty," they stated. "Under the law, you and the other officers of the company must act to maximize profit and must not subordinate the company’s long-term financial well-being to extraneous personal or political ends.”
Discrimination Could Spread Beyond PoliticsSome say they are concerned that bank discrimination could spread beyond political and religious views to a broader social credit system that might also include things such as environmental behavior and gun control.
“Banks and other financial institutions have already started to discriminate with gun companies, either through higher fees or rates or by refusing to do business entirely, and every large bank in the United States, from Bank of America to Citi and Wells Fargo, have said they have started the process of phasing out CO2 emissions from their entire business model, including lending and banking services,” he said.
“This will take a few decades to complete, but if these banks go through with their plans, individuals and companies that rely on fossil fuels—almost everyone today—will be greatly affected.”
“The policies they use to do this are very expansive policies, like 'reputational risk' or 'politically exposed person,'” the ADF's Mr. Ross said. “There’s not really a limiting principle there, and so we can certainly see it aimed at any sort of political opponent or anyone who has views that activists or even government actors think are unpopular."
“And just this last week, they de-banked a couple of doctors who are out talking about the inefficacy of [COVID-19] vaccines, that they won’t stop transmission, that they won’t make takers immune, etc., and the bank still hasn’t explained why,” Mr. Shepard said. “We’ve seen similar behavior at Bank of America, along with Bank of America sharing private information about the transactions of customers without warrants. And last week, we found out that that happens all the time; [FBI Director] Chris Wray says so.”
“Banks in particular receive a ton of bailouts and public benefits from the government and from taxpayers here,” Mr. Ross said. “They do this so that they can serve the public.”
“So when they turn around and start weaponizing these financial services to cut off people with views they don’t like, they’re breaking the public trust,” he noted.
“The American banks that seem to be leading these de-banking and discrimination policies are the too-big-to-fail banks,” Mr. Shepard said. “If you’re backstopped by American taxpayers, you get to keep your profits but we cover your losses—you may not discriminate against the viewpoint of any American.”