Banks accused of putting lives at risk as charity accounts are shut without notice

Fifteen years ago a group of Kenyan churchgoers decided to tackle the growing problem of young beggars in their small coastal town. The children had been orphaned by HIV and extreme poverty prevented their extended families from offering them a home. The women founded a charity whose UK arm, Upendo UK, sends donations to feed, clothe and educate 56 of these children so that impoverished relatives can afford to take them in. In February the project was jeopardised when the charity’s bank, HSBC, cut off its funding stream without warning. “We only discovered that our account had been closed, along with all the standing orders and direct debits, when a donor asked why their payment had been rejected,” says founder Jo Jenkins. “HSBC had requested extra information, which I provided, and I was assured that everything appeared to be in order, but they still went ahead anyway.” Upendo UK is one of several charities who have contacted The Observer to report that their banking facilities had suddenly been withdrawn. All appear to be casualties of the cut-throat market and tough anti-money laundering regulations following the financial crisis of 2008. Banks, which face punitive fines from UK and US regulators if… Read full this story

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