Let me tell you about the circus and the bank. The troupe is called ‘Circus Uncertainty’, and is based in Bristol. It was founded earlier this year by Joshua Morris.
He wants to work with terminally ill children. He can get grants to fund this endeavour, but the circus must have a business bank account to receive them.
We need a drum-roll here, because Santander Bank is about to enter the ring.
Mr Morris applied to this bank for a business account. At first everything went swimmingly. Smiles all round. Then, after a delay, the bank informed him that it could not accept his business.
After a great deal of evasion, the bank revealed the reason. Its staff had looked at photos on the circus’ website, and disapproved of the female performers’ costumes. There was a ‘moral problem’.
Can you believe it? This is a bank sitting in moral judgement on its customers.
These are the organisations which presided over their staff carrying out fraudulent activity on a grand scale. These are the people who, when they found out that they would be fined, not imprisoned, cried out that it was all too cruel. They protested that if they were to be held to account in this way, the economy would crumble and we would all starve.
Now they see themselves as arbiters of moral and ethical propriety!
it’s interesting to see Santander going to such lengths to ensure that prospective customers meet the proper standards. Banks don’t usually worry about such things. They are content for accounts to be used for money-laundering, or any other criminal activity for that matter. When challenged, they will claim that they can’t possibly vet every customer. Yet here we have just such an event occurring. Curiouser and curiouser!
Santander would not discuss the problem with Mr Morris, at least not until the story appeared in the media. The bank then had a miraculous change of heart and was prepared to offer an account to the circus, because the ‘moral problem’ was based on a misunderstanding. There was no difficulty with the troupe’s behaviour, after all. So the bank still claims the right to make moral judgements.
Mr Morris may take up the offer or, because of his shabby treatment at the hands of Santander, he may give his business to a bank with less exalted standards. Lloyds, perhaps.
Just when we thought that the banks couldn’t do anything more breathtaking, one of them produces this. We are accustomed to their smug justifications of endemic chicanery and criminality, but this is something new. This is something terrifying. The moral well-being of the nation is in the hands of the banks.
You may have seen it coming, but it’s stunned me.
- Circus troupe denied Santander bank account as burlesque acts deemed ‘moral problem’ (independent.co.uk)
- Bank backtracks on burlesque ban (bbc.co.uk)
- Banking Standards Review