Co-op Bank closes campaigners accounts
Bank faces legal action for alleged discrimination
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has launched a legal case against the Co operative Bank on the grounds of discrimination.
According to campaigners, 20 UK based pro-Palestinian groups have had their accounts closed or access to funds denied by the bank.
Last month, PSC’s account was closed by the Co-operative Bank which cited “the Bank’s risk appetite” for the closure and has refused to elaborate further.
PSC and its legal team believe the decision is discriminatory and contravenes the Equality Act 2010. PSC has today initiated legal proceedings against the Bank.
ITN solicitors said: “It appears that the decision was taken because of PSC’s support for Palestine. A decision based on active support of Palestinian causes – or on the nationality or religion of the Palestinian people – would be discriminatory.”
Sarah Colborne, PSC’s Director said:
“Many people and organisations choose to Bank with the Co-operative because it markets itself as an ethical bank. But in deciding to close down the accounts of those working for or in Palestine it is clear the Co-op Bank has turned its back on its ethical principles."
"In taking this decision it appears that the Co-operative Bank has chosen to discriminate against those who are working for the freedom and human rights of those in Palestine. We will be writing to our members telling them of the Co-operative Bank’s decision and asking those who Bank with the Co-operative Bank to move their accounts."
Commenting on the closures, Shaun Fensom of the Save Our Bank campaign said:
"The bank should understand that many customers will be dismayed by this news. We call on the bank to remember its proud tradition of supporting human right campaigners and to cease any closure of accounts of organisations working to support Palestine. We do not think however that for people to close accounts now in protest is the right tactic. We are stronger if we stay together."
Illustration: Martin Rowson
A spokes person from the Co-op Bank told Ethical Consumer:
"We have to perform due diligence on our customers, their accounts and the payments they make to ensure the Bank complies with anti-money laundering obligations and to manage the Bank’s risk."
"For customers who operate in, or send money to, any very high risk or high risk locations throughout the world, advanced due diligence checks are required by all banks to ensure that funds do not inadvertently fund illegal or other proscribed activities. Depending on the particular circumstances, it may not be possible for us to complete these checks to our satisfaction. Unfortunately, the decision to close a number of accounts is the inevitable result of this process."
He added that, "This does not mean that we cannot or will not facilitate humanitarian, educational, medical and human rights donations to the Gaza region. Médecins Sans Frontières, The British Council, Amnesty, ActionAid and Oxfam all do excellent work in these fields in Gaza and elsewhere and we make regular donations to some of these organisations through our current account and credit cards."
Find out more about the Save Our Bank Campaign.
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