Rushanara Ali MP cross-examined banking chiefs on claims that disproportionate numbers of customers, money transfer businesses, Muslim charities and other organisations were being denied access to basic banking facilities.Over a year after challenging banks and regulators on their approach to money transfer businesses in her Save Remittance Giving campaign, Rushanara raised questions to banking representatives at a Treasury Select Committee hearing. During the questioning, Rushanara made reference to a recent study carried out by the think-tank Demos which suggests that individuals, Muslim charities and other organisations are suffering in response to banks closing down accounts for fear of being fined by regulators.
During the hearing, Rushanara said:
“There are a number of charities that face issues around bank accounts. This was the subject of a study by Demos, for instance. There seems to be a major challenge. Banks on the one hand are very concerned about receiving heavy fines and fulfilling their regulatory objectives, and on the other hand there are major concerns about organisations or individuals falling foul of an overzealous de-risking approach by banks. What do you think the Government should be doing? What should the regulator be doing here to try to deal with this potential gap and risk of organisations unfairly finding themselves not being able to continue to have bank accounts?”
After questioning representatives from banking world in the Treasury Select Committee, Rushanara said:
“All people and charities deserve greater transparency from our banks. I completely accept that banks need to put in place procedures to ensure that customers are within the law, but there is a sensible balance to be struck between proper compliance and equal access to basic banking facilities. It is concerning that the perception has grown that banks are pursuing an approach to banking that is targeting customers, Muslim charities and money transfer businesses. We need banks, regulators and government to come together to ensure that all customers are shown to be treated fairly, regardless of their background or ethnicity.”