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Luetkemeyer urges OCC to end alleged abuse under Operation Choke Point

Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., criticized the OCC's involvement in Operation Choke Point, a controversial Department of Justice initiative that placed pressure on banks and third-party payment processors to cut ties with businesses it believes are susceptible to money laundering or that could pose a reputational risk.

In a Dec. 8 letter, the congressman urged the OCC to issue formal standards to ensure regulators are no longer able to pressure banks into making de-risking decisions.

Rep. Luetkemeyer said that OCC-regulated banks cited regulatory pressure as the primary reason for account terminations, and that banks' fears of retribution are keeping them from coming forward with first-hand accounts of regulatory abuse.

The lawmaker noted that fellow regulator FDIC has started instituting more transparency when requesting account terminations, in line with the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2016 that was passed in February.