An Arizona businessman says his company was dropped by two separate banks because of a controversial federal initiative called Operation Choke Point.
Steve Stratford, director of operations at Secure Account Service (SAS), which processes payments for debt relief accounts, said that two banks, JP Morgan Chase and Horizon Community Bank, severed their relationships with the company out of the clear blue.
Stratford’s case is the first to be highlighted in a new initiative from the United States Consumer Coalition (USCC) called “Whistleblower Wednesday.”
As part of the initiative, details of which were shared exclusively with The Daily Caller ahead of its rollout, USCC will spend up to $5 million to draw attention to Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice program designed to prevent criminal and fraudulent companies from doing business.
The objective of “Whistleblower Wednesday” is to attract companies, consumers, and government employees to share their stories about Operation Choke Point, which USCC calls a “reprehensible program.”
Other critics of Operation Choke Point, including House Oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, have said that the federal initiative unfairly hinders banks from doing business with companies in industries that are classified by federal agencies as “high-risk.”
Some of the industries labeled as high-risk include gun sellers and coin dealers. Powderhorn Outfitters, a Massachusetts gun seller, recently detailed how it was dropped by TD Bank because — as it was told by a bank manager — it sells firearms and ammunition.
What Operation Choke Point does, its critics say, is force banks to deeply scrutinize relationships with customers in “high-risk” industries. Fearing cumbersome regulation themselves, the banks merely cut ties with the companies rather than trigger more federal oversight.