Operation Choke Point Continues to Choke


On Wednesday, June 26, members of AMOA were back in Washington, D.C., lobbying against and complaining about the continued account closures due to Operation Choke Point. According to the team, their visit to legislators stated that closures had not slowed down since the DOJ renounced the operation in August of last year. AMOA’s delegation consisted of 10 industry execs from around the country, along with reps from AMOA’s legislative firm, Dentons LLP, who organized and directed the day’s meetings.

“The notification of bank account closures coming into the AMOA office has increased significantly over the past two months,” said AMOA Executive VP Lori Schneider. “AMOA leadership felt it was important to make a larger impact on this visit by expanding its footprint on the issue during our June visit.”

AMOA Government Relations Chairman Tim Zahn added, “Our goal this visit was to exhibit national representation of the issue while at the same time having a constituent in the room speaking to the heart of the matter. On a typical legislative visit, our delegation breaks into two groups to cover more ground, however, when you had 10 people from across the country filling up a congressional meeting room speaking to the horrendous impact bank account closures place on their businesses, it truly made a statement.”

Mike Zappa and John Comella

Eight congressional offices were visited in addition to another with the American Bankers Assn. AMOA authored a white paper explaining what can be expected from members operating ATMs. The white paper addresses areas of concern for bank regulators based upon feedback from the Comptroller of the Currency. This white paper was presented during this month’s visit along with recent bank account closure notification letters received by our members.

A meeting with a top executive from the Bankers Assn. served notice that AMOA is not going away and will continue to press for answers as to why these bank account closures keep happening. AMOA execs say they will persist both legislatively and on the bank regulatory side.

According to AMOA, during each quarterly visit, two things become admittedly clearer in discussions: 1) the larger banks are moving away from cash and 2) the amount of regulatory paperwork required by banks when dealing with cash transactions is making it “nearly impossible” for them to continue doing business with cash customers.

Those are frightening (albeit unsurprising) takeaways for an industry still so heavily influenced by the cash in (or not in) people’s pockets. AMOA asks all members to continue to provide notice of account closures as the evidence helps validate their work. Look for info about an AMOA grass roots campaign coming soon that will strongly encourage members to engage with their Congressional rep.


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