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Bank Apologizes over Trucker Convoy account freeze
By Marc Patrone
Scotiabank is the first of the ‘big five’ banks to issue an apology over the freezing of bank accounts belonging to a trucker convoy protester.
In an email from the office of the CEO of Scotiabank (Brian J. Porter) asked protest spokesperson Benjamin Dichter to, “Please accept our sincere apologies for the frustration and inconvenience this situation may have caused and thank you for your patience while we prepared our response.”
“I don’t believe the banks went out of their way to target clients. I believe It came from somewhere else. They didn’t do it on their own accord.” Dichter Said.
In the email dated March 3rd, Scotiabank alludes to an RCMP “notification” as the impetus for what happened to Dichter and hundreds of others.
Dichter says he was “surprised” by the letter suggesting banks are probably nervous about massive customer backlash, and suggest they are now likely engaged in damage control.
“We can confirm that financial institutions acted quickly to unfreeze accounts after the RCMP notified us that it believes that individuals and entities previously identified are no longer engaged in conduct or activities prohibited under the Emergency Measures Regulations.” Scotiabank says it worked “quickly to unfreeze the accounts,” while appearing to laying the blame for the decision to freeze them in the first place at the feet of the RCMP.
“My interpretation of their response is, "we do not want to do this. As soon as they allowed us to, give you access to your account, we did so immediately. It wasn’t our choice,” Dichter said.
Banks can be obliged to freeze accounts, under the legal directives of police, engaged in criminal investigations. “While most customer accounts have been unfrozen, it is important to remember that some accounts may be frozen for a variety of other reasons, including to comply with court orders or proceedings related to illegal activities or other unrelated legal matters,” Scotiabank said.
Accounts belonging to hundreds of protesters were ordered ‘frozen’ February 14th when the Trudeau government imposed the Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy trucker protests.
There’s been no shortage of finger-pointing since the government called a public inquiry into the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. The Act had never been imposed until this year and is only supposed to be used under the most extreme circumstances.
Both the RCMP and Ottawa Police Force have contradicted government accounts that law enforcement officers requested the act be imposed, granting sweeping powers to the Trudeau government. The RCMP now finds itself under scrutiny over the freezing of bank accounts belonging to protesters.
The actions of the Canadian banks prompted untold numbers of account holders to withdraw their money, fearing they too could eventually be subject to account freezes or even asset seizures in the face of a government and police crackdown.
Carelton University Law Professor Leah West was quoted in the New York Times in February saying, ‘there would most likely be lasting effects for the protesters and organizers when it comes to their finances.’
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