[Editor's Note: The following post is by TDV Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Berwick]
The US government is attempting every possible angle to ensure Americans don't have access to guns. The latest is a new twist on capital controls being instituted by the Department of (In)Justice.
The DoJ is why financial institutions are refusing services to companies as diverse as gun shops, bitcoin businesses, marijuana dispensaries and even the porn industry.
Just last week a gun shop in Florida had an old bank account closed after their local bank was bought out by Wall Street interests.
The Miami News Times writes,
The Libertis’ battle with BankUnited began last month. For seven years, they say, they had no problem with the Miami Lakes-based bank. T.R. had run a gun store in the Garden State, and when he opened Top-Gun Firearms on Calle Ocho, BankUnited operated the account.
But when T.R. decided to retire and let Elizabeth take the store online — under the new name Discount Ammo-N-Guns — the Libertis found themselves suddenly under fire.
A March 12 letter mysteriously informed them that BankUnited was closing their checking account “pursuant to the terms and conditions listed in our Depositor’s Agreement.” It gave the Libertis three days to transfer their cash elsewhere. When the Libertis called BankUnited for an explanation, they were politely informed that none would be forthcoming.
“I was very angry,” Elizabeth says. “They were very inconsiderate. We had all our credit cards going through that bank. All of a sudden, we had to run and find another bank to keep our business going. We shut down for two weeks, and they wouldn’t even tell us why.”
This is normal operating procedures for banks in the United States, according to news of a secretive DoJ operation which broke last week in the Wall Street Journal and American Banker.
It is called Operation Chokepoint. It appears as reports of credit card processors, banks, and lending institutions refuse to do business with any business that is legally buying and selling guns.
Smaller financial institutions are unable to cater to these owners, under pressure of penalty by the DoJ.
Ironically, Bank of America has led the charge against the gun industry. General Electric Capital began cutting of lending to the gun industry around a year ago. Wells Fargo is being sued by a bank manager for being fired for bringing her gun to work in Tampa, Florida. In the card processing industry, a Visa owned subsidiary cut off service to a gun shop.
US citizens soon won't find anywhere to buy guns once this is over with. Forget regulations on what sorts of guns one can buy. Once you're dead, unless you have a gun trust, which TDV has written about in its newsletter HomeGrown, your gun will end up with the State, and your descendents won't have any option to buy guns since every gun shop owner will have been run out of business.
BITCOIN BUSINESS ARE TARGETS
Bitcoin businesses have had their accounts shutdown by major banking institutions merely for their involvement in bitcoin. Banks which at one time marketed themselves as bitcoin friendly had to go back on that sentiment, and shut down bitcoin accounts, such as what happened to the Internet Credit Union.
Our recommendation to gun owners and bitcoin advocates is to get together now to transact all firearms transactions in bitcoin before the US government shuts down all retail firearm firms bank accounts.
MARIJUANA BUSINESSES TOO
Marijuana businesses have also been targeted. These small businesses have been forced in Washington and Colorado to deal in cash, a much riskier and expensive form of handling money than credit or even cheque for a business like a marijuana dispensary.
This has created dangerous obstacles for workers and owners, who must transport the cash they've been forced to handle. Sure, they might be saving out on certain fees, but sometimes, if you're handling enough money, cash is not perfect. That is why bitcoin makes much sense for this industry as well.
AND THE PORN INDUSTRY…
And yes, the US government is even going after the porn industry!
Last week, when porn star Teagan Presley arrived to her Las Vegas home from an extensive strip club tour, she found an unsettling letter from her bank. Chase was closing her account, which was listed under her legal name, as well as her husband's account. And so Presley went to the bank to get to the bottom of this. She was told, like many bitcoiners have been told, that her bank account was considered "high risk." High risk? What is she, a terrorist? If she is considered such, then you best believe so too are gun shop owners, bitcoiners, and marijuana dispensaries. Presley explains further:
“And then they told me that they canceled my husband’s account too, because our social security numbers are linked,” Presley told VICE News. “They told him that it was because I’m a notorious adult star. Which is funny, because I’m kind of a goody-goody in the business, and I’m not even doing porn anymore.” Presley is not alone. Many adult entertainers have experienced the same discrimination.
CNBC wrote in 2013 of actress Chanel Preston, whose bank account was terminated at Los Angeles City National Bank, and porn studio head Marc Greenberg's lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase for violation of fair lending laws. Greenberg wanted to refinance his longstanding home loan, but JP Morgan vice president told him he was being declined moral grounds.
A Chase representative had no comment for VICE News.
PAYDAY LENDERS ALSO A TARGET
At a March hearing before a Senate Banking subcommittee, according to the Washington Post, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) said “there is a determined effort, from [the Justice Department] to the regulators… to cut off credit and use other tactics to force [payday lenders] out of business. I find that deeply troubling because it has no statutory basis, no statutory authority.”
IS THE US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FORCING BANKS TO BAN 30 INDUSTRIES, INCLUDING GUNS, BITCOIN, MARIJUANA, PAYDAY LENDERS..AND EVEN PORN?
Operation Choke Point is a targeted effort to shut down as many as 30 separate industries by making it impossible for them to access the banking system.
Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on Thursday by American Banking Association CEO Frank Keating, who wrote that the Justice Department tells "bankers to behave like policemen and judges."
“Operation Choke Point is asking banks to identify customers who may be breaking the law or simply doing something government officials don’t like,” Keating wrote. “Banks must then ‘choke off’ those customers’ access to financial services, shutting down their accounts.”
Keating calls the operation highly secretive, pinpointing it to early 2013, just as porn stars began to complain to the media that their banks were being shutdown.
The banks are beholden to the feds. This is what fascism is – the merger between states and corporations. So, basically, government and corporations are not separate entities. At the top, they are all one. What Noam Chomsky terms the "state-enterprise apparatus." Or, what we call, Crapitalism.
“If a bank doesn’t shut down a questionable account when directed to do so, Justice slaps the institution with a penalty for wrongdoing that may or may not have happened,” Keating wrote.
Bureaucrats are also dismayed by the behavior of the DoJ!
Former chairman of the FDIC, William Isaac, wrote in American Banker magazine last week that Operation Choke Point is “way out of control,” continuing that 23 bipartisan members of Congress authored a letter to the DOJ explicating that the operation is putting legal industries out of business…including banks!
The president of the Independent Community Bankers of America penned a letter to the Justice Department earlier this month, writing that Operation Chokepoint prevents small community banks from competing with the major chains.
The Justice Department did not respond to VICE News' inquiry for comment.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
The closure of these accounts is a part of an overarching policy, laid out in a 2011 FDIC document which listed 30 "merchant categories that have been associated with high-risk activity," like pornography, Ponzi schemes, racist materials, "lifetime guarantees," and sales of fireworks and tobacco. You can be sure that since 2011, bitcoin and the marijuana industries have been added to that.
As we've covered numerous times, the US is no place to do business… and is quickly becoming nearly impossible for many to do so. Those with money or businesses inside the US should be looking to internationalize their companies and bank accounts to protect against this. Consult with TDV Offshore on internationalizing your businesses and bank accounts and TDV Wealth Management for internationalizing your assets. Instead of constantly worrying when you're going to get that letter from your bank shutting down your bank account or worse, offshore your assets, like so many others have done before you. If you're not quite there yet, our newsletter might be for you. For more information, click here.