The financial access problems faced by nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are a significant part of the findings from the workshop hosted last summer by the World Bank and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). The report, Stakeholder Dialogue on De-risking: Findings and Recommendations, summarizes the main findings of the May 31-June 1 meeting as well as the recommendations made by participants. These recommendations are simply a reflection of the discussion rather than any endorsement by the World Bank or ACAMS.
New guidance on correspondent banking from the U.S. Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) advises all OCC-supervised banks, as part of their best practices, to consider "the extent to which account closures may have an adverse impact on access to financial services for an entire group of customers or potential customers, or an entire geographic location." It also encourages banks to ensure a clear audit trail of the reasons and method used for account closure.
The guidance, Risk Management Guidance on Periodic Risk Reevaluation of Foreign Correspondent Banking, advises banks to consider mitigating information provided by foreign financial institutions, and provide them "sufficient time to establish alternative banking relationships before terminating accounts, unless doing so would be contrary to law, or pose an additional risk to the bank or national security, or reveal law enforcement activity."
States around the globe have adopted or proposed laws imposing new or additional restrictions on the ability of CSOs to form, operate, organize, and express themselves over the past year, according to a Survey of Trends Affecting Civic Space: 2015-16 from the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law.
New repressive laws were passed in Cambodia, China, South Sudan, Uzbekistan and Uganda that negatively impacted the ability of civil society organizations (CSOs) to carry out their work. In other places, protests were stifled; CSOs were closed, suspended or expelled; and harsh counterterrorism laws had negative consequences for CSOs. In Egypt, for example, new counterterrorism laws, enacted in August 2015 by executive decree, employ a broad definition of terrorism that can be interpreted to encompass acts of civil disobedience.
There is good news, as well, for civil society. On the positive side, France saw an unprecendented peaceful gathering, the largest public gathering in the country's history, after the January 2016 terror attacks there. In Guatemala, President Otto Perez Molina resigned in September 2015 after street protests erupted demanding his resignation following revelations of corruption. Civil society has also thwarted repressive laws in several countries. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, civil society’s efforts contributed to parliament’s rejection of the “Foreign Agents” law in May 2016.
Read the full report here.