We wrote an open letter to the Co-op Bank asking a number of questions. The bank has written to us privately and answered some of those questions. We are pressing them now to let us have something we can publish. Meanwhile, we still have questions unanswered and we have put some new questions to the bank:
1. In its statement, the bank said it "has made some changes recently to bring it into line with the industry”. We have been contacted by charities that have been refused an account by the Co-op and then accepted by one of the high street banks. Should it be harder for legitimate charities to use the Co-op than its high street competitors?
2. The bank is aiming to provide a high standard of customer service. We have been contacted by groups that have been given no explanation why they have been refused an account. Groups that have been told their account will be closed have been given no explanation why, and given no indication what they can do if they wish to remain with the Co-op. What is the bank doing to address this failure of customer service?
3. Some of the accounts that the bank is closing are for registered charities, and hence subject to close scrutiny by the charity commission. Why is it not possible to tell these charities what additional procedures they should adopt to satisfy the legal obligations of the bank?
4. In its statement the bank cited the problem of money transfers to ‘high-risk’ destinations, and we understand that there are obligations in this regard. We struggle to understand however why this affects the Cuba Solidarity Campaign as an example. What are the criteria that the bank is applying?
5. Are there more charities and groups that will be contacted and asked to close their accounts, or has that process completed now?