Lawsuit launched against banks over ‘financial discrimination’

Published on February 10, 2023 by oz. staff

Photo: Adobe/the oz.
The TD Canada Trust tower is pictured in Toronto.

A class action lawsuit has been launched against several major Canadian banks, accusing them of “financial discrimination.”

Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Desjardins Federation, National Bank, Royal Bank, and TD Bank are named.

“For far too long, Canadian banks have treated the cannabis industry like pariahs, as if it was still completely illegal. By doing so, they are depriving the Canadian, but especially the local economy of developing a promising market,” says Maxime Guérin, a lawyer with Quebec-based law firm Groupe SGF — cannabis legal advisors and consultants.

The class action lawsuit, which has not yet been authorized, is on behalf of Gabriel Bélanger, the founder of Origami Extraction, alleging the banks have engaged in financial discrimination against those in the legal cannabis industry in Canada.

“The class action includes all individuals or corporations that, directly or indirectly, do business with the major defendant banks and who are involved in the legal cannabis industry since Oct. 17, 2018,” says Groupe SGF.

Many cannabis micro-producers have complained over the years of the high fees and onerous hoops they are forced to jump through.

Allegations include denials of opening bank accounts, sudden closures of current bank accounts, and denials of access to various financial tools, such as mortgage loans and credit lines for legal cannabis industry businesses.

“Indeed, it is common knowledge in the cannabis industry that the big banks refuse any form of financing and even refuse the opening of current bank accounts in addition to refusing certain operations, in particular international operations which are completely legal,” says Groupe SGF on its website.