For seven years Theodore Roosevelt Liberti — known to his friends as “T.R.” — ran a retail gun shop in New Jersey and then moved it to Florida. T.R.’s bank had always been BankUnited (BU), which handled his accounts and cleared his customers' credit card purchases. But when he decided to open an online store called Discount Ammo-N-Guns, BankUnited closed his accounts on March 12 “pursuant to the terms and conditions listed in our Depositor’s Agreement.”
When T.R. demanded a further explanation, the bank remained silent. T.R.’s wife and business partner, Elizabeth, said:
I was very angry. They were very inconsiderate. We had all our credit cards going through that bank.
All of a sudden we had to run and find another bank to keep our business going. We [had to] shut down for two weeks.
[BU] wouldn’t even tell us why.
When the bank finally responded, its explanation was unsatisfactory:
This letter in no way reflects any derogatory reasons for such action on your behalf, but rather one of [our] industry.
Unfortunately your company’s line of business is not commensurate with the industries we work with.
Liberti is considering suing the bank for violating his constitutional rights. In the meantime, his story has gone viral and Liberti thinks “a lot of people will drop them, and they will feel the sting.”
If this were just a one-off incident, it would soon fade from the headlines. But Black Rifle Armory in Henderson, Nevada, received a similar letter from its bank, which froze the company’s accounts until the bank could determine if any of its transactions were “suspicious.”
Following the Obama administration’s “Operation Broken Trust," an operation that began just months into his first term, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was created initially to “root out and expose” investment scams. After bringing 343 criminal and 189 civil cases, the task force began looking for other targets.
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