Elsewhere online
August 17, 2016

Arab-American Charity Loses Suit Over Bank-Account Closure

A federal jury decided Tuesday in favor of Bank of America in a case brought by an Arab-American aid charity whose account was shut down by the bank, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Southfield, Mich.-based Life for Relief and Development filed suit in 2012, claiming ethnic bias factored into the closure. Lawyers for the bank argued that the decision was prompted by “unusual activity for a business account,” including cash deposits from unknown sources and “structuring,” or making smaller deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements. The nonprofit said the allegations were baseless.

Laws enacted after the September 11, 2001, attacks raised regulatory pressure on banks to ensure they are not handling money tied to terrorism. Muslim and Arab-American organizations contend this has led financial institutions to target them. Life for Relief and Development lost a similar suit it brought in 2006 against Comerica Bank. The charity, founded by Iraqi-Americans, does aid work in the Middle East and Muslim-majority regions as well as responding to domestic disasters like the Flint water crisis.