15 states warn banking giant to starting treating customers fairly

 April 20, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

The Bank of America is being warned, in a letter from authorities in 15 states, to start treating customers fairly.

Or face consequences.

The issue is described in a letter, authored by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach and joined by many others, to bank chief Brian Moynihan.

It's over the bank's practice of "de-banking," or simply shutting down the accounts and banking rights, of various people and groups with whom to bank disagrees.

The letter, bearing the signatures of officers from Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia, too, calls on Moynihan to deliver, within 30 days, a report about his "account-cancellation policies and practices," his "risk tolerance," "reputational risk," "hate" and "intolerance perspectives, and "whether Bank of America considers a customer’s speech or religious exercise—or public perception or other groups’ perception of them—as a component of those policies."

The letter told Moynihan, "It is nearly impossible to function today as an individual, family, or organization without a bank account, a credit card, and the ability to obtain a loan. Federal and state governments recognize the necessity of these kinds of financial services, which is why they have passed numerous laws to prohibit various types of discrimination in the past. It is also why national banks like yours receive bailouts and many other privileges, courtesy of the American taxpayers."

However, the letter charges, his bank "appears to be conditioning access to its services on customers having the bank’s preferred religious or political views."

"This is inconsistent with your bank’s promise to uphold 'the highest standards of corporate governance and ethical conduct [including] efforts to always do business the 'right way for [its] customers.' Surely Bank of America would not say that denying service to clients for exercising their civil liberties is doing 'business the right way for [its] customers.' Your discriminatory behavior is a serious threat to free speech and religious freedom, is potentially illegal, and is causing political and regulatory backlash."

Already, the company has built a reputation for denying services to gun manufacturers and others, fossil-fuel producers, private prisons and "conservative and religious Americans."

Further, the bank"willingly participated in … financial surveillance" of Americans, the letter said.

"We are deeply concerned that Bank of America is willing to cooperate in the infringement of its customers’ constitutional and privacy rights to help federal law enforcement surveil and target millions of conservative Americans, many of whom live in our states. Bank of America has a pattern of viewpoint-based debanking."

And in egregious actions, Bank of America canceled the banking accounts of multiple Christian ministries.

The letter asks the bank to "curb" its "discrimination."

A report from the ADF explained, "Just last month, the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government singled out Bank of America for voluntarily handing over confidential customer information to government agencies without a warrant and without notifying its customers. Government agencies had flagged ADF and other mainstream religious and conservative organizations as 'domestic terrorist' threats, urging major banks to disclose private transactions involving keywords like 'Cabela's,' 'Dick’s Sporting Goods,' and 'religious texts.'"

The report noted the bank's annual shareholder meeting is just days away, on April 24, at which board faces a request for a report on the "risks of politicized de-banking."

Potentially, the report explains, there are "numerous legal and regulatory risks" the bank is embracing.

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