First revealed in 2013, Operation Choke Point is the name of a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) used to target and close the bank accounts of industries or organizations these regulators disfavor on purely ideological grounds. This program and related bank account terminations have been used to disrupt the lawful business activities of small-dollar lenders, among others, by pressuring the banks with which they work to close their accounts and prevent them from accessing the banking system.
In 2014, CFSA and Advance America filed a lawsuit against the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, the OCC, and the Comptroller of the Currency, Thomas J. Curry, seeking to end Operation Choke Point after exhausting every other option with regulators and Congress. The plaintiffs prevailed against the government defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and the lawsuit has now moved into the discovery phase.
Following years of Congressional and independent investigation into Operation Choke Point, the program has continued, with banks terminating small-dollar lender accounts as recently as November 2016. However, the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency declared an end to this Obama-era initiative in August 2017.
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