WASHINGTON (3/20/15)--CUNA has joined with other financial services trade organizations to support an amendment to the U.S. Senate budget resolution that would end the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Operation Choke Point. The amendment was approved by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Thursday by a 13-9 vote.
Operation Choke Point allows the DOJ's Financial Fraud Task Force to investigate whether financial institutions and payment processing companies are enabling fraudulent activity.
"We are concerned that Operation Choke Point's broad enforcement tactics could undermine effectiveness and create risks to consumers and the economy," the letter reads. "Operation Choke Point activities have resulted in some financial institutions suspending access to financial services for certain legal businesses."
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) proposed the amendment, which the organizations say would "in no way" inhibit enforcement of anti-fraud laws because Bank Secrecy Act and other such statutes would still remain in effect.
The amendment would prevent the DOJ from pressuring a financial institution into terminating specific accounts or business relationships.
"We strongly believe that before a law enforcement agency or regulator requires that a relationship be terminated with a credit union member or bank customer, the law enforcement agency or regulator must have and provide to the credit union or bank a material reason clearly related to a specific violation of the law," the letter reads.
The committee voted 12-10 to approve the Senate Finance Resolution as a whole Thursday, and the resolution is likely to be heard on the Senate floor next week.
CUNA also supports a bill introduced in February by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) that would limit regulators' ability to pressure financial institutions to restrict services.