ATMIA update details efforts to throttle Operation Choke Point

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The ATM Industry Association has released “Operation Choke Point: An ATM Industry Update.” The report examines the impact to independent ATM deployers of the U.S. government’s anti-money laundering program as well as information IADs can use take to protect their business’s banking relationships.

OCP was introduced as a tool to deter financial institutions from doing business with organizations that could be engaged in criminal activity. IADs have been caught up in bank investigations into the nature and location of their retail ATM placements.

According to the ATMIA, IADs have reported an increasing number of due diligence letters from financial institutions.Some of these have been requests for information, but others have been account closure notices. In some instances, IAD bank accounts have been closed without warning, according to the report.

“Operation Choke Point resembles a tug-of-war between legal businesses and formidable adversaries — the Department of Justice and financial regulatory agencies,” said Roger Meyers, co-chair of the ATMIA IAD committee and president of Switch Commerce.

The report includes insights from IADs who have faced OCP head-on, tips for keeping bank accounts open, and updates on actions taken by ATMIA to end OCP.

“IADs need our help,” said Chris Mirzai, executive vice president of American ATM and co-chair of the IAD committee. “They cannot tug this rope by themselves. We need Congress to fight for us and ATMIA has assembled a mighty force. We need to pull our resources together to fight to end Operation Choke Point.”

David Tente, executive director of ATMIA U.S., and Kurt Helwig, president and CEO of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association, met recently with Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer, who introduced H.R. 766, legislation that aims to kill OCP.

Leutkemeyer’s bill was passed by the House in February with bipartisan support. In April, Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz introduced a companion bill in the Senate. President Obama strongly opposes H.R. 766, however and has said he would veto the legislation.

Tente recommends that IADs join the effort to end Operation Choke Point by getting involved with ATMIA committees, contributing to the association’s U.S. Legal Defense Fund and contacting their elected representatives. He also asks that IADs who receive account closure letters forward them to ATMIA.

ATMIA members can download the document, “Operation Choke Point: An ATM Industry Update,” from the ATMIA website.

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