On the weaponisation of the financial system

by ~millyt-dorsen, published on


The financial system / the banking sector has arguably increasingly been used as a political tool over the past several years, sometimes an extra-legal one. And not only against various "axis of evil" countries but also against domestic citizens or groups.

Nothing to see here, or a trend?

weaponisation trend

What do you think about the examples below? Who will be the next querdenker or group of lateral thinkers to be denied using a bank account, or get his, hers or their assets frozen?

(Last updated 2022-11-05)

Examples against domestic citizens or groups

  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2010 Operation Payback: Visa, MasterCard and PayPal choked off donations to WikiLeaks
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2010 Tea Party: IRS official admitted the agency had been aggressively scrutinizing groups with names such as "Tea Party" and "Patriots"
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2013 Operation Choke Point: The US government pressured banks to "debank" gun sellers, coal producers, etc
  • ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท 2016 Gรผlen supporters: The Turkish government cancelled a banking license over Gรผlen links
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช 2016 Pro-Palestine activists: Palestine bank account closures in Ireland โ€œclearly politicalโ€
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2017 Jihad Watch: Online payment company PayPal banned Jihad Watch and the siteโ€™s director Robert Spencer from accepting donations
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2018 Gab social media. Gab was banned by Strip. The twitter-like service said it was placed on "banking blacklist"
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช 2018 Nicolaus Fest: German AfD politician Nicolaus Fest debanked by Deutsche Bank
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2018 Proud boys: Shopify banned shops tied to the Proud Boys
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น 2020 Martin Sellner: Austrian activist Martin Sellner claims to have been blocked by 17 banks
  • ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 2020 Swedish journalist: Swedbank terminated a journalists bank account without just cause
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2020 Amazon: Amazon halted donations to members of Congress who voted against certifying the Electoral College results
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2020 New Project 2: Patreon Alternative New Project 2 was banned by MasterCard
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2021 January 6 protestors: PayPal and Venmo banned organizers of the "Stop the Steal" rally. Stripe, Shopify and GoFundMe acted similarly
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2021 Fair access rule paused: OCC announced pause of the "Fair Access" rule that was intended to prevent another Operation Choke Point
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 2021 Anatoly Shariy: Ukrainian politician (blogger?) Anatoly Sharijโ€™s real estate and bank accounts were frozen
  • ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 2022 Canadian truckers: The Canadian government froze bank accounts for "anyone linked" with protests
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 2022 Anatoly Shariy: Ukrainian politician Anatoly Sharij claims Binance cryptocurrency exchange took money from his wallet
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2022 Firearm retailers: Visa, Mastercard and American Express added ISO merchant category for firearms retailers after political pressure. This opens up for information sharing to third parties (i.e. who is buying a gun, potentially side-stepping the US Constitution)
  • ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2022 PayPal; PayPal attempted to impose a $2500 fine on users who promoted "misinformation"
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง 2022 Santander. Santander UK announced limits of payments to crypto exchanges

Examples when the banking sector needed a bail-in or bailout

  • ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ 2014 Haircuts on savings; The government confiscated parts of households' savings through haircuts on deposit accounts
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ง 2022 Withdrawal limits: The country of Lebanon was hit by a wave of robberies after imposing withdrawal limits

International examples of using the financial system as a weapon

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท 2018 Iran: SWIFT suspended Iranian banks' access to messaging system
  • ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช 2019 Venezuelan gold: Bank of England blocking the release of 31 tonnes of gold
  • ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ 2022 Russia: International sanctions during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Examples of when Swedish authorities confiscated cash

  • ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 2017 Confiscation: 98-year-old Ada wanted to trade in her bank notes - the government confiscated her life savings
  • ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 2017 Confiscation: Gunnar tried to redeem SEK 311,500 - but the Riksbank kept all the money
  • ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 2021 Confiscation: Inherited SEK 85,000 from his father โ€“ the government confiscated the banknotes
  • ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช 2021 Confiscation: Gunnar had 2.6 MSEK in his bedroom - now the Riksbank will burn it all

What do you think? Feel free to share your comments below.

Cover image: Italian tank C-1 Ariete. No changes were made to the image retrieved from WikiMedia Commons.