Complaints that Huntington Bancshares and other banks are shutting down accounts of Muslims and Arab-Americans for no apparent reason aren’t just limited to Michigan, where a lawsuit was filed against Huntington this week over the practice. An attorney for terror-linked CAIR (Council on ANTI-American Islamic Relations), Romin Iqbal, said banks, including Huntington and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have taken similar steps in Ohio.
EARLIER STORY: gee-i-wonder-why-jp-morgan-chase-has-been-closing-arab-and-muslim-bank-accounts-in-michigan
FYI: Under U.S. law, it is illegal to handle bank accounts which are directly or indirectly funding terrorism, usually under the guise of Islamic charities.
Dispatch In central Ohio, the group has received about a dozen complaints over the past six months, he said. They are primarily from Arabs and Pakistanis who own gas stations, grocery stores and other small businesses, he said. Iqbal said the Ohio council won’t join the Michigan lawsuit, because the group is based in Ohio, but it is reviewing information for possible action in the state.
The actions have disrupted these businesses and, in some cases, essentially made them bankless because they have had trouble getting accounts at other banks, he said.“They’ve been asked en masse to take their business elsewhere,” he said. “These are people running allegedly legitimate businesses.” (But some of whom are suspected of funding terrorism)
Thursday, an Arab-American civil-rights organization sued Huntington in U.S. District Court in Detroit, accusing the bank of discriminating against Arab-Americans and Muslims, or those who the bank thinks are Arab-American or Muslim. While the group has gotten complaints about banks from as far away as California and Texas, most have been from the Detroit area and involved Huntington.
The group said a lawsuit was the only way to get answers for why the accounts were closed, because the bank won’t tell it. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and says damages have totaled more than $75,000. “It’s just wrong. It’s just unfair,” said Nabih Ayad, the attorney who filed the lawsuit. “It’s discriminatory.” (No, it is banks not wanting to be implicated in cases where Muslims are suspected of funding terrorist groups like the Holy Land foundation via transfers from their bank account)
“We are reviewing the information available to us at this time and cannot specifically comment,” spokeswoman Maureen Brown said. “It is Huntington’s policy to not comment on legal matters. Chase also would not talk specifically about the allegations, but denied closing any accounts because of ethnic or religious reasons.
Huntington would not say why it was closing the accounts. The lawsuit says, “Huntington’s actual reason for deciding to close plaintiffs’ account is because plaintiffs are Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern, or perceived as Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern.”
The lawsuit says Arab and Muslim customers of Middle Eastern descent or those so perceived are subject to greater scrutiny “and must overcome a suspicion that they are attempting to aid in terrorist activity or are conducting fraudulent activity.”
Detroit businessman Adnan Mouhajer had banked at Huntington for nearly 20 years when he received a letter in March, telling him that two of his five personal and business accounts were being closed. There was no explanation in the letter, and Mouhajer said the bank would not return his phone calls. Mouhajer finally concluded that the bank acted because of his ethnic and religious background. (Well, Duh!)