WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says it has put a stop to Operation Choke Point, a controversial program under the Justice Department that aimed to discourage financial institutions from servicing businesses viewed as high-risk.

In a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd called the policy a “misguided initiative,” and pledged to end it.

“The Department will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries, including businesses engaged in short-term lending and firearms-related activities,” he said in the Aug. 16 letter.

“The Department will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries, including businesses engaged in short-term lending and firearms-related activities,” a Justice Department official said in the Aug. 16 letter.

All bank investigations pursued under Choke Point had ended, and none would be “undertaken again,” Boyd said.

Some subpoenas issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. under Operation Choke Point had “led to the discovery of other criminal activity involving certain individuals and non-bank entities,” Boyd said. The Justice Department plans to “pursue those ancillary investigations,” but only where unlawful conduct is at stake, he said.

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Lalita Clozel

Lalita Clozel covers fintech regulation, anti-money-laundering, cybersecurity and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in American Banker's Washington bureau.