JOHN KIRIAKOU: Banks, Felons & Jeffrey Epstein

JPMorgan Chase is accused of transferring more than $1.1 million from convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to “girls or women.” If so, where were his “suspicious activity” reports?

(TheDigitalArtist on Pixabay, Public domain)

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

When I was arrested and charged with espionage in 2012 after blowing the whistle on the C.I.A.’s torture program, I accepted that my world was falling on my head.  Friends walked away.  Even relatives told me that they didn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore.  And as if I didn’t have enough to worry about, like facing 45 years in prison, there were several other indignities that I hadn’t expected. 

First, USAA, with which I had done business for 22 years, canceled my car insurance, my homeowners’ insurance and my credit card.  When I called to ask what in the world was going on, I was told directly and clearly, “We don’t do business with felons.”  That was despite my not yet being convicted of any crime. 

The news only got worse for me from there.  Bank of America closed my checking account with no notice and mailed me the balance.  Why?  Because they don’t do business with felons either. 

Friends who had remained loyal banded together in the weeks after my arrest to organize a defense fund. They collected donations via GoFundMe and tried to open a bank account to hold the money.  They were turned down by Wells Fargo, United Bank, M&T and every other bank they went to. 

Why again?  Because they don’t do business with felons.  They were eventually allowed to open an account with a local credit union that had never heard of me and apparently didn’t care about doing business with yet-to-be-convicted “felons.”

Opaque System

I didn’t get any special treatment in 2012.  It wasn’t like the national banking system had it out for me personally.  This kind of thing happens all the time to people all across America.  But the system is opaque, it apparently answers to no one, and there doesn’t appear to be much of a recourse if it happens to you.

Last year, Christina Blanton of Chicago, who had banked at Bank of America for 17 years, suddenly found her account suspended.  After getting the runaround from the bank’s toll-free number, one operator finally told her simply, “We decided to close your account.”  A bank official with whom she spoke subsequently said, “It was a business decision.”  That was it.  There was no further explanation. 

To make matters worse, Blanton was facing surgery for thyroid cancer. The bank not only closed her account, it confiscated the money in it.  Only after a local news station reached out to the bank did it return Blanton’s money to her.  Bank officials never apologized.  And they never refunded the three months of maintenance fees they assessed her for having an “inactive account” while it was frozen.

Naafeh Dhillon was a student at New York University in 2013.  When he moved to New York from his native Pakistan, he opened a checking account at Chase Bank.  He also applied and received a credit card.  But one night, when out with friend, and with no notice, Chase closed his checking account, confiscated the money and canceled his credit card.  There was no warning or red flag.  And he was given no explanation.  He eventually got his money back, but the bank never allowed him to reopen his account or to open a new one. 

In the Name of ‘National Security’

U.S.Treasury Department in Washington. (Wally Gobetz, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Banks, as it turns out, are legally within their rights to do this to people.  It’s all in the name of “national security.”  Banks are compelled by law to report any activity by depositors that they deem to be “suspicious or potentially illegal.” 

Banks must file a “suspicious activity report” with the Department of the Treasury saying that they believe they have spotted suspicious activity.  Failing to do so could subject the bank to all sorts of federal penalties. 

But only 4 percent of the 1.4 million “suspicious activity” reports filed by banks in 2021 merited follow-up by law enforcement, according to  a 2018 study from the Bank Policy Institute. And very, very few of those genuinely pointed to criminal activity.

The bottom line, then, seems to be that as banks bend over backward to ensure that they are in compliance with federal law, they steer away from felons, or even accused felons and, occasionally, innocent people get caught up in the policy. 

But that’s simply not the case. 

Why, for example, is a lawyer for the U.S. Virgin Islands accusing JPMorgan Chase of transferring more than $1.1 million in payments from convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to “girls or women” for years after bank executives said they had dropped Epstein as a client?  If so, where was his suspicious activity reports? Answer: banks apply the federal law discriminately.

There’s an easy solution to all this.  It’s called regulation.  First, unless a person is convicted of a serious financial crime or something involving bank fraud, for example, there is no reason on earth for a bank to close the account and sever their relationship.  They should be prohibited from doing so.  And second, there must be controls on fallout from suspicious activity reports. 

It’s one thing for a nameless, faceless bureaucrat to say, “Hey, this guy just got a $10,000 money transfer from Yemen.”  It’s an entirely different thing to arbitrarily harm an innocent citizen.  Congress must step up and right this wrong.

John Kiriakou is a former C.I.A. counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act — a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

17 comments for “JOHN KIRIAKOU: Banks, Felons & Jeffrey Epstein

  1. August 29, 2023 at 20:20

    I bank at my neighbourhood credit union, and have for 27 years. Highly recommend it to everyone.

  2. JonT
    August 29, 2023 at 14:03

    Closing someone’s bank account is one thing, but how on earth are the banks allowed to keep the money that is in there? This is theft. The bank becomes the felon?.

  3. LeoSun
    August 29, 2023 at 12:49

    Oh, John Kiriakou you are “A Survivor!!!” 100%!!! w/a strong foundation and “gold” inside of you, “Mighty little force is needed to control a man who has been hoodwinked in this fashion; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, whose mind is free. No, not the rack nor the atomic bomb, not anything. You can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.” ? Robert A Heinlein

    “Oh, takes us back to the start,” i.e., 2010-2013, OhBama’s, “Hope & Change,” adverse effect. The rot, @ the core of “Operation Choke Point.”

    “Operation Choke Point” aka “Chicago Style Politics,” ‘TO CUT OFF banking and financial services for small businesses & industries [&, obviously, law abiding, tax paying, People] that OhBama’s-Biden’s WH deemed to be political enemies or otherwise undesirable.”

    “[ANY] business deemed to be a political enemy would be considered to be “high risk.” BHObama’s “Hope & Change,” Operation Choke Point, “operated unrestrained for years!!!” It was the initiative through which certain government agencies pressured banks to cut off access to financial services to lawful sectors of the economy.”

    Operation Choke Point, IF, an industry stood against their political agenda, it was only a matter of bringing the full force of the administrative & regulatory state against that industry as a means of coercion and punishment.” (Alternative Newspapers, Alternative Voices, “High Risk” businesses).

    “But under the Obama administration, the DOJ watched the FDIC and OCC carry out this program without intervening, and even gave Operation Choke Point its name – because “it was designed to ‘choke out’ payday lenders and other ‘high risk’ businesses [AND, PEOPLE]. Officials at both the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) threatened banks with regulatory pressure if they did not bend to their will.”

    In August 2017, the Trump administration ended Operation Choke Point.

    YEARS, later, 2023, “WANTED: A Resolution!!! Respect. Fair & Square Banking Practices!”

    “THAT will take an act of Congress!!!” i.e., SIX (6) Months Ago, February 7, 2023, $enate Republicans RE-INTRODUCED S.293 – “Fair Access to Banking Act.” hxxps://

    “Corporations are people, too!” ‘This Legislation is in response to U.S. banks & financial institutions, increasingly, using their economic standing to categorically discriminate against legal industries.’

    “This legislation would bar financial institutions from refusing or limiting services to constitutionally-protected industries,” the energy or firearms manufacturing sectors; Payment Services like Apple Pay & PayPal denying their services for transactions involving firearms or ammunition.”

    Read all about it, “Operation Choke Point.” Sources: Washington Examiner, 10.17.18-“Obama’s Operation Choke Point, Finally Unmasked;” The Hill, “Operation Choke Point Reveals True Injustices of Obama’s Justice Department,” 11.7.18; &, @ Duck Duck Go, “Operation Choke Point,” the duck is your oyster! AND, then there’s all that weight to be lost…….

    • LeoSun
      August 29, 2023 at 12:58

      THE BILL, “Fair Access to Banking Act” @ hxxps://

      The human aspect is found @ Section 5) FAIR ACCESS TO FINANCIAL SERVICES.—“means persons engaged in activities lawful under Federal law are able to obtain financial services at banks without impediments caused by a prejudice against or dislike for a person or the business of the customer, products or services sold by the person, or favoritism for market alternatives to the business of the person;” AND,

      Section 6) FINANCIAL SERVICE—means a financial product or service, including—(A) commercial and merchant banking; (B) lending; (C) financing; (D) leasing; (E) cash, asset, and investment management and advisory services; (F) credit card services; (G) payment processing;(H) security and foreign exchange trading and brokerage services; and (I) insurance products.

      A BILL, to penalize, prevent, codify, REQUIRE qualified banks to provide written justification for why they are denying a person financial services; and, Punish ….

      A BILL to amend the Federal Reserve Act to prohibit certain financial service providers who deny fair access to financial services from using taxpayer funded discount window lending programs, and for other purposes.”

      LAST ACTION TAKEN on FEBRUARY 7, 2023, “Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.” Concluding, Congress SUCKS!!!

      WANTED: A People’s President. A People’s House. AND, inphkndeed, as posted herein below. “A People’s Bank,” of the people, by the People, for the People… TY, John Kiriakou, CN, et al., “KEEP IT LIT!”

  4. August 29, 2023 at 09:33

    Unregulated capitalism is worse than any single political dictatorship. Each company acts like a dictatorship, and that way you can squeeze tens of thousands of dictatorships into one country. That’s the miracle of modern, unregulated capitalism. And the crooks running the show bank on it.

  5. Dozer1
    August 28, 2023 at 23:32

    They are called “Banksters” for a reason. They are tied in with the Federal Reserve (an unconstitutional and highly secretive entity that is part government and part private, depending on which part serves the masters best). The Federal Reserve is tied into the International Monetary Forum (IMF), the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), shadowy entities of the European and British money laundering systems (Brussels, Soho district of London), and squirrelly offshoots of the old British Empire (Canary Islands, Virgin Islands, etc). Depending on how deep one wants to explore, these phony money-laundering institutions and locations are tied to the World Economic Forum (WEF), corrupted “think tanks,” and old European money families. I guess it is all just a “conspiracy theory,” but when some people (like Canadian truckers, pro-Brexit politicians, anti-vax polemicists) go afoul of the conspirators, the Banksters are quick to step in. The fiat money system is the problem. It gives the phony billionaires leverage they would never have in a real economic system of scarcity and output.

  6. Theresa Barzee
    August 28, 2023 at 20:56

    So, what about GoFundMe holding all the donations to Grayzone’s new hires,?! Can you please speak with Max Blumenthal and ream the company or give us advice about how to hold them accountable? Is a class action lawsuit pissible against GoFundMe?!

  7. RWilson
    August 28, 2023 at 20:31

    It looks to me like the big banks are tools of the oligarchy (which Jimmy Carter described as “an oligarchy of unbridled greed”). Canada’s freezing of dissenters’ bank accounts during the trucker protest is an example of what’s creeping into the U.S.

    P.S. Thanks for your insightful show “The Whistleblowers”.

  8. Jeff Harrison
    August 28, 2023 at 20:30

    This sort of thing is the original reason for Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws. Switzerland apparently no longer has banking secrecy or neutrality.

  9. kiers
    August 28, 2023 at 19:54

    Murica, in reality, is just a figment of people’s imagination. It’s nothing but corruption. Still uncovered. Only ~5% has been exposed.

  10. Dfnslblty
    August 28, 2023 at 17:45


  11. VallejoD
    August 28, 2023 at 17:26

    Wow. Just plain wow.
    America is galloping towards becoming a fascist police state.

    • Jeff Harrison
      August 28, 2023 at 20:31

      Don’t kid yourself. We’re already there.

  12. Lois Gagnon
    August 28, 2023 at 16:32

    The solution to this is of course, public banking. These private banks have been wreaking havoc in the public sphere for ions. Time to remove the privilege of private financial institutions for abusing the public trust.

    • Rob Roy
      August 29, 2023 at 01:07

      Public banks, yes!
      I quit using PayPal when they stole donations that had been made to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks. Now they stolen thousands donated to Graystone’s writers. If you think it’s bad now, wait until you are forced into CBDCs and digital IDs and lose all control over your money. If you want to donate money to a cause or reporters that refuse to follow the dominate narrative, you will be stopped and your money stolen. A new pandemic is planned for the fall. If you refuse shots because the last ones did godawful damage to people’s health, even to death, you won’t be able to go anywhere, fly anywhere, bank anywhere, eat out anywhere, attend school ir public functions. Fascism rules the USA.

    • LeoSun
      August 30, 2023 at 09:29

      Indeed! Indeed!! Indeed!!! And, Thank You. “Keep It Lit.”

  13. charles
    August 28, 2023 at 15:51

    Interesting. So, Hunter Biden can receive large amounts of cash sent to his and Joe’s accounts and nothing happens. Like it’s ok? And after getting hard evidence, it is still OK? The state department and CIA transfer large amounts of cash all over the world, but that is OK

    It seems that the citizens of this country are being put upon every day by the large amount of security establishments. The DHS, that started in 2002 now has a budget of $65billion with 250,000 employees. Who are they securing? Their j0b’s for themselves. The NSA that has every single phone call, email and other information seem to be protecting the criminals in the gov’t. After all, this information could have defused all the shenanigans concerning the election in 2016 and 2020.

    There was a report about 100 pedophiles caught in the Pentagon bout a year ago. Nothing was done and you hear nothing about it. NSA could have records on all that.

    All this leaves our populace worried and scared. The message though to us peons is “If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t worry”. However think about all those poor men that were thrown in Guantánamo. tortured every day. The message is clear.

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