Elsewhere online
March 05, 2015

Banks Block Millions in Gifts to U.K. Middle East Aid Groups

International banks are holding up millions of dollars in donations to U.K.-based charities delivering aid to Syria, Iraq, and Gaza, The Guardian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation report, citing a new think-tank study. HSBC, UBS, and other major banks have frozen relief groups’ accounts and delayed or returned charitable gifts over concerns that the money will end up with extremist groups and put them in violation of broad British anti-terror laws, according to the Overseas Development Institute.

Financial houses have also become more risk-averse in the wake of a U.S. court case in which Jordan-based Arab Bank was found liable for handling Saudi donations that went to suicide bombers responsible for attacks that killed Americans in Israel, the institute reported. Aid groups say the banks’ moves have delayed payments to staff and suppliers and forced them to abandon projects, with one unnamed charity asserting it has lost more than $3 million in the past year because of blocked donations.