Have French Banks Placed a "Fatwa" on Le Pen?
Seven months ago, Marine Le Pen and her far right party the Front National made a surprisingly strong showing in the French elections. But after the banks HSBC and Societe General recently terminated her and her party's accounts, Le Pen believes she is a casualty of a "banking fatwa".
The politician thinks that the banks, which have previously denied the Front National loans, have discriminated against the party and intend to suppress them. In response, the financial institutions insist that banking rules, not political feelings, influenced their decision.
According to Le Pen, the banks' choice "is an attempt to suffocate an opposition party."
As a candidate, she lost the vote conclusively, with Emmanuel Macron and his centrist La République en Marche clinching 66% of the population. However, the Front National gained more traction than many expected, drawing support from many citizens who felt discontented with French politics in recent years.
Le Pen has asked President Macron to stand by her claim as she pursues formal grievances against the banks. HSBC previously shut down one of her personal accounts, and in November Societe General terminated the Front National's accounts. Later, Societe General's subsidiary Credit du Nord was asked to create a new party account, but the larger company denied its credit card payments.
However, Societe General refutes the claims of a "fatwa" against Le Pen. The bank stated, "Decisions to open or close an account depend purely on banking reasons."
In France, having a bank account is a right, but banks are permitted to finish accounts without a given reason by law. Even if a person demands that the Bank of France opens an account for them, the bank may only allow the simplest banking courtesies.
This is far from the first financial obstacle the Front National has faced. A 9 million euro loan from a Russian bank caused major controversy in 2014. The Front National blew 12.5 million euros on the 2017 election and has requested its supporters donate more.
Le Pen challenged her followers to question the banks' activities. Since then, "JeQuitteLaSG" (I leave the Societe General) has became a hot trending top on French Twitter.
Speaking for the French government, Christophe Castaner said that although the Front National has the right to a bank account, he could not comment further since he didn't know the reasons for its closure.
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