Pro-Palestine groups consider legal action against Co-op Bank for closing their accounts

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has engaged solicitors, saying the bank appears to have acted contrary to the Equality Act; the bank says the organisations did not meet its requirements

Co-op Bank: closed down a number of accounts
Co-op Bank: closed down a number of accounts

Pro-Palestine groups that are angry about having their bank accounts closed by the Co-operative Bank have said they are taking legal advice and planning protests after the lender closed or curtailed the accounts of 20 organisations.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it had engaged solicitors to bring proceedings against the bank on the basis that it appeared to have made the decision "because of PSC’s support for Palestine" and contrary to sections 13 and 29 of the Equality Act. 

According to the PSC, which campaigns for Palestinian rights, 10 of its local branches and 10 other organisations focused on Palestine have had their accounts closed by the Co-operative Bank. 

The list includes one charity registered with the Charity Commission, the Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund

The PSC said it was not given any reason by the bank for the closure of its account.

The Co-op issued a statement saying the decision was "not a reflection on the work carried out by many organisations throughout the world, or a statement about the causes they support".

It said it had closed the PSC’s account and those of a number of other organisations because, after "extensive research", it had concluded they either did not meet its requirements or allow it to fulfil its anti-money laundering obligations. 

It said: "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."

Another of the organisations to have had its account closed, the Sheffield branch of the PSC, is planning a protest outside a Sheffield branch of the Co-operative Bank on 3 December.

The PSC said it had been able to open an account with Unity Bank.

The Co-op said its action did not mean it would not facilitate humanitarian, educational, medical and human rights donations to the Gaza region.

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