HSBC is closing Braces of Bristol’s bank account for ‘security reasons’, says gunshop owner Dan Pool. The UK bank has been interviewing Mr Pool about his south-of-England business throughout most of 2019.
Mr Pool has been a personal customer of HSBC for more than 20 years. He says: “I think they know more about me than I do. Now they deem my business ‘high risk’.”
HSBC first contacted Braces with its concerns in April 2019. That’s when it used the phrase ‘high risk’ to Mr Pool in a telephone conversation. Neither Mr Pool nor Braces of Bristol have been involved in either fraudulent business or business in contravention of the terms of his registered firearms dealership. The shop on Wells Road south of Bristol sells sporting shotguns, rifles, airguns and a range of clothing and shooting accessories.
In July, HSBC case manager Mizan Miah wrote to Mr Pool to say the bank ‘has a legal requirement to show our regulator that we know and understand who our customers are’. Mr Miah went on to ask about the funding behind Braces, which has been trading for more than 10 years. HSBC handled all of that funding during that time.
In September, HSBC’s head of ‘business banking relationship managed’ (sic) David Beaty wrote to Braces to say he had not ‘been able to obtain the information we require from you about you and your business, so restrictions have been placed on your banking services’. In the same letter, Mr Beaty said HSBC planned to close the account on 9 November 2019 and required loans or overdraft to be paid back by then.
Braces is located in a row of shops. Dan asked other local businesses who bank with HSBC if they have had the same letters. They have not. He suspects discrimination against gunshops, even though application for a registered firearms dealership means he has been subject to stringent tests of both responsibility and citizenship. He is currently looking at other banks.
HSBC says it does not comment on individual customers. A spokesman adds: “Although we can’t always be specific about why we decide to close an account, a decision of this kind is never taken lightly. We routinely carry out reviews of our customers’ business accounts and any decisions to close an account are taken on a case by case basis.”
Companies in the finance sector that cracked down on gun owners in Australia had to backtrack. Bank of Queensland was forced to change a ‘discriminatory’ policy after it was heavily criticised by customers and federal Agriculture Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie. The original policy outlined the bank could deny loans to gun shop employees. Shooting sports supporter Senator McKenzie labelled the policy “virtue signalling” and wrote to the bank’s chief executive officer, George Frazis, complaining about the policy on behalf of the firearms industry. After pressure from many SSAA members and Senator McKenzie, the bank today told the SSAA it has started changing its policies. More on this story here. Australian insurance company QBE landed itself with the same story – click here. Thanks to viewer Alan Flint for these links.
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