Banks have been taking action on accounts linked with groups deemed to be spreading misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccinations, according to an investigation by the NRC.
It claims that at least eight organisations have been put on a watchlist or have had their accounts stopped, including the protest group Viruswaarheid and evangelist Jaap Dieleman.
The measure is seen as part of the banks’ duties to combat extremism and ‘dangerous’ messaging, claims the NRC.
The organisations taking action on the subject reportedly include the ING, Triodos Bank, Rabobank and payment platform Mollie.
However, some banking experts told the NRC that banks can refuse a client but need to properly substantiate any measure to block banking facilities.
Earlier this year, a court ruled that ING needed to give the founder of Viruswaarheid access back to his account for four months.
The bank had stopped the account, citing concerns about payments of €50,000 for a piece of land in Spain, which appeared to have been funded by donations made by the group’s supporters.
But the court ruled there was no concrete evidence of money laundering or criminal activities, and account holder Willem Engel said the payment was a guaranteed loan that had been repaid.
A spokesman for the Rabobank told DutchNews.nl that it does have a policy on the matter, but treats examples individually. ‘It is possible that there would be disruptive consequences for society if people are spreading misinformation but freedom of speech is also important and we look at the policy on a case-by-case basis,’ he said.
A spokesman for Triodos said the bank does not discuss individual circumstances, but also makes decisions on a case-by-case basis. ‘Beliefs and opinions do not in themselves constitute grounds for rejecting an application,’ he added. ‘Within the framework of our criteria and legal obligations, we always consider several aspects.’
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