On the weaponisation of the financial system

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The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust thatโ€™s required to make it work.

– Satoshi Nakamoto

The financial system / the banking sector has arguably increasingly been used as a political tool over the past several years, sometimes an extra-legal one. And not only against various “axis of evil” countries but also against domestic citizens or groups.

Nothing to see here, or a trend?

weaponisation trend

What do you think about the examples below? Who will be the next querdenker or group of lateral thinkers to be denied using a bank account, or get his, hers or their assets frozen?

(Last updated 2024-04-17)

Examples against domestic citizens or groups

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2010Operation Payback : Visa, MasterCard and PayPal choked off donations to WikiLeaks
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2010Tea Party : IRS official admitted the agency had been aggressively scrutinizing groups with names such as “Tea Party” and “Patriots”
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2013Operation Choke Point : The US government pressured banks to “debank” gun sellers, coal producers, etc
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท2016Gรผlen supporters : The Turkish government cancelled a banking license over Gรผlen links
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช2016Pro-Palestine activists : Palestine bank account closures in Ireland โ€œclearly politicalโ€
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2017Jihad Watch : Online payment company PayPal banned Jihad Watch and the siteโ€™s director Robert Spencer from accepting donations
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2018Gab social media . Gab was banned by Stripe. The twitter-like service said it was placed on “banking blacklist”
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช2018Nicolaus Fest : German AfD politician Nicolaus Fest debanked by Deutsche Bank
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2018Proud boys : Shopify banned shops tied to the Proud Boys
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น2020Martin Sellner : Austrian activist Martin Sellner claims to have been blocked by 17 banks
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2020Swedish journalist : Swedbank terminated a journalists bank account without just cause
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2020Amazon : Amazon halted donations to members of Congress who voted against certifying the Electoral College results
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2020Epik : PayPal drops domain name registrar Epik
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2020New Project 2 : Patreon Alternative New Project 2 was banned by MasterCard
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2021January 6 protestors : PayPal and Venmo banned organizers of the “Stop the Steal” rally. Stripe, Shopify and GoFundMe acted similarly
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2021Fair access rule paused : OCC announced pause of the “Fair Access” rule that was intended to prevent another Operation Choke Point
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2021Freedom Phone : PayPal banned Freedom Phone permanently, as did Shopify and Amazon Pay. PayPal also held up $1.2 million in payments(!).
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ2021Anatoly Shariy : Ukrainian politician (blogger?) Anatoly Sharijโ€™s real estate and bank accounts were frozen
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ2022Canadian truckers : The Canadian government froze bank accounts for “anyone linked” with protests
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022Colin Wright : This evolutionary biologist was kicked off PayPal and Etsy
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ2022Anatoly Shariy : Ukrainian politician Anatoly Sharij claims Binance cryptocurrency exchange took money from his wallet
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022Firearm retailers : Visa, Mastercard and American Express added ISO merchant category for firearms retailers after political pressure. This opens up for information sharing to third parties (i.e. who is buying a gun, potentially side-stepping the US Constitution )
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022Toby Young : The British journalist, chief editor of the Daily Skeptic, saw his and the company’s account suddenly suspended by PayPal
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022PayPal ; PayPal attempted to impose a $2500 fine on users who promoted “misinformation”
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง2022Santander . Santander UK announced limits of payments to crypto exchanges
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท2022Brazil protests . Brazil Supreme Court ordered banks to seize/block funds from protesters participating in mass demonstrations
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022US government : Biden administration wants to make it easier to seize crypto without criminal charges
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง2022Nationwide . UK’s Nationwide imposed limit on transfers to crypto-currency providers (following similar moves by Santander, TSB, Virgin Money and Starling Bank)
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ2022Nigeria : Nigeria capped ATM cash withdrawals at ~$45 daily in part to promote its CBDC eNaira
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022Fed : U.S. Fed proposes plan for banks to manage climate-linked financial risk
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ2022Basel 4 : EP groups proposed amendments on Basel 4 to penalise fossil fuels
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2022Crypto bill : Senator “Pocahontas” Warren introduces new crypto bill targeting self-custody wallets
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2023Signature Bank : “…regulators wanted to send a very strong anti-crypto messageโ€ according to board member & former congressman Barney Frank
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2023South Dakota : South Dakota governor vetoed bill which tried to prevent Bitcoin and crypto from beinged defined as money
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2023Signature Bank : Sources say any buyer of Signature must agree to give up all the crypto business at the bank (later denied by FDIC)
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง2023Tide : UK fintech company Tide shut down podcast Triggernometryโ€™s bank account
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2023Marginalen bank : Sweden’s ‘Marginalen bank’ blocks bank account of media outlet SwebbTV
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2023Nordea : Former SD politician denied bank account, but bank reversed its decision after media coverage
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2023If : Insurance company If starting to terminate business customers deemed not “sufficiently sustainable”
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง2023Brexit : “Brexiteer” Farage says his UK bank accounts are being closed
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ2023GoFundMe Far-left news site Grayzone says GoFundMe prevented access to donations, due to “external concerns”
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง2023JP Morgan Chase : JPMorgan’s UK bank Chase to ban crypto transactions, reportedly due to “crypto scams”
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง2024Barclays Bank : Sex workers denounce UK banks for waging โ€˜warโ€™ on their jobs


Examples when the banking sector needed a bail-in or bailout

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ2014Haircuts on savings ; The government confiscated parts of households’ savings through haircuts on deposit accounts
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ง2022Withdrawal limits : The country of Lebanon was hit by a wave of robberies after imposing withdrawal limits


International examples of using the financial system as a weapon

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท2018Iran : SWIFT suspended Iranian banks’ access to messaging system
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช2019Venezuelan gold : Bank of England blocking the release of 31 tonnes of gold
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ2022Russia : International sanctions as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ2024Russia : US Treasury Secretary Yellen: “necessary and urgent (…) to find a way to unlock the value in those [Russiaโ€™s] immobilized assets…”


Examples of when Swedish authorities confiscated cash

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2017Confiscation : 98-year-old Ada wanted to trade in her bank notes - the government confiscated her life savings
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2017Confiscation : Gunnar tried to redeem SEK 311,500 - but the Riksbank kept all the money
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2021Confiscation : Inherited SEK 85,000 from his father โ€“ the government confiscated the banknotes
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช2021Confiscation : Gunnar had 2.6 MSEK in his bedroom - now the Riksbank will burn it all