WASHINGTON -- The National ATM Council said it is advancing its campaign against bank account closures prompted by Operation Choke Point. NAC told Vending Times that the issue has reached crisis proportions with the latest round of operator account closures coming from Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The association also said banks continue to reject new account applications to facilitate ATM operations.
At issue is the misguided application of regulations related to Operation Choke Point. The program, which began in 2013 as a well-intentioned Department of Justice effort to combat money laundering, is now impacting a record number of independent ATM deployers. Because ATM bank requirements require several steps in the movement of funds, banks flag these accounts as possible money-laundering mechanisms identified by Choke Point. So banks of all sizes continue to close longstanding accounts or deny operators the ability to open new ones.
NAC executive director Bruce Renard and ATM operator Chris Dedyo, Cash Express Services (Tampa, FL), recently met with lawmakers in Washington to present their case. The lobbying push demonstrated that NAC is not without allies in the nation's capital.
Renard and Dedyo met with Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), chairman of the Financial Institutions Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee. Luetkemeyer has been particularly engaged in an effort to assist, NAC said. Immediately following the most recent meeting, the congressman contacted the White House to express strong concern over the damage being done to individual companies and potentially the economy as a whole because of this issue. Luetkemeyer's office also is speaking with individual banks and bank trade associations to encourage them to cooperatively address and correct the ATM account closure problem.
Additionally, Renard and Dedyo met with Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL) who also sits on the House Financial Services Committee. Ross is strongly supportive of the association's position regarding the need to have banks provide banking services to independent ATM operators, NAC said.
NAC is asking independent ATM operators to report arbitrary bank account closures and new account denials. For additional information regarding NAC's lobbying efforts and how to report a bank account closure or account denial, visit natmc.org.
In related news, the Amusement and Music Operators Association reported in April that its members who provide ATM services experienced a new wave of abrupt account closures. AMOA executive vice-president Lori Schneider recently met with a staff member on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to discuss the matter. Any AMOA member whose bank account has been abruptly shut down should notify Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 937-2662.
ADVOCACY: From left, Chris Dedyo of Cash Express Services (Tampa, FL), Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and NAC executive director Bruce Renard discuss the negative impact of Operation Choke Point on independent ATM operators.