Bank explains decision on Palestine groups

The bank sent us the following statement concerning the closure of the some accounts for organisations supporting Palestine, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

"This decision is not a reflection on the work carried out by many organisations throughout the world, or a statement about the causes they support. We remain a committed supporter of charities which can meet the industry level requirements. However, in common with all banks, we have to perform due diligence on our customers, their accounts and the payments they make to ensure the Bank complies with anti-money laundering obligations and to manage the Bank’s risk. This is part of our normal banking processes and is an area where the Bank has made some changes recently to bring it into line with the industry generally.

"For customers who operate in, or send money to, any very high risk or high risk locations throughout the world, advanced due diligence checks are required by all banks to ensure that funds do not inadvertently fund illegal or other proscribed activities.

"Depending on the particular circumstances it may not be possible for us to complete these checks to our satisfaction and the decision to close a number of accounts, including the PSC and some of its affiliates, is an inevitable result of this process. Unfortunately, after quite extensive research, the charities involved did not meet our requirements or, in our view, allow us to fulfil our obligations.

"This does not mean that we cannot or will not facilitate humanitarian, educational, medical and human rights donations to the Gaza region. Médecins Sans Frontières‎, The British Council, Amnesty, ActionAid and Oxfam all do excellent work in these fields in Gaza and elsewhere and we make regular donations to some of these organisations through our current account and credit cards.

"We would like to reassure customers that we apply consistent criteria when dealing with all customers and countries and this decision is about adhering to our obligations under the law and not about arbitrary decisions or any form of discrimination or inequality. We have done considerable research and this decision is based on our adherence to our legal obligations and on our assessment of risk. Adhering to our obligations is clearly part of our ethics and we continue to support charities in all sorts of areas who can meet our criteria including charities as stated above which operate in Gaza."

Save Our Bank has responded to this statement with an open letter to the chief executive.