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Thu 31 Jul 2014 12:28 PM

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HSBC under fire in UK over closure of Muslim accounts

Lender blames 2012 fine for move, which has seen several Muslim charities hit

HSBC under fire in UK over closure of Muslim accounts

Global lender HSBC is in the spotlight after the bank's British operation decided to close down a series of accounts belonging to local mosques, Muslim groups and local charities.

Several groups, including the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, have recently received a letter from the bank, indicating that their business no longer fitted HSBC’s “risk appetite”, according to the BBC.

Other entities that have had their accounts closed by the bank include the Cordoba Foundation and the Ummah Welfare Trust. The cases have sparked accusations that HSBC - whose tagline is ’the world’s local bank’ - has been conducting an Islamophobic campaign.

However, the lender said that the moves come after a fine imposed in 2012 after an investigation implicated HSBC in money laundering through the US financial system.

An HSBC spokesman said: “We do not discuss individual customers, nor do we confirm whether an individual or business is, or has been a customer.

“For context however, HSBC was fined $1.9 billion in December 2012 by the US and UK governments and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.

“The bank is applying a programme of strategic assessments to all of its businesses.

“As a result of these ongoing reviews, we have exited relationships with business and personal customers in over 70 countries. The services we provide to charities are no exception to this global review.”

He added: “Decisions to end a customer relationship are not taken lightly, and are absolutely not based on the race or religion of a customer.

“Discrimination against customers on grounds of race or religion is immoral, unacceptable and illegal, and HSBC has comprehensive rules and policies in place to ensure race or religion are never factors in banking decisions.”

HSBC has also been paring back its operations in the UAE in recent months, following the 2012 fine. In June last year, the bank decided to close the accounts belonging to several small and medium sized businesses.

In March, HSBC confirmed that it had closed some regional accounts with links to sanction-targeted nations, including Syria and Iran. It also announced an unspecified number of redundancies in the region.

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Andy 6 years ago

In 2012, and without notice, HSBC stopped my monthly orphan donations to Islamic Relief in Birmingham. When I requested an explanation, they refused, referring to their statutes.
I suspected it had to do with the money laundering case, but they wouldn't tell me anything. Instead, they preferred to keep me in the dark, as if that would help improve their already damaged reputation.

Roxan 6 years ago

Have they closed any accounts of a church, a christian charity association, political party.... Of course not, they are just focusing on Muslim targets....since in their subconscious Muslims are all linked to terrorism. Make no mistake on the real enemy.

Adam 6 years ago

Their explanations are just unconvincing. The best initiative is to have our accounts transferred to other Banks which are more or less online with our believes.

I invite all who disagree with their pathetic attitude to move away from them. I will do it tomorrow at lunch. Stop being a silent majority.

JayKay 6 years ago

Quite simple - risk associated with these accounts is not acceptable due to due diligence and the layered tests applied. The reality is that many charities are used as cover to move funds to groups such as ISIS/drug cartels/crime groups etc - There's plenty more banks they can chose from. Why should the bank take risk and be taken to court for money laundering? They can go to NBD or NBAD in London, I'm sure they will welcome them if they are beyond reproach.

John Thomas 6 years ago

Adam, that may be difficult - they should be closed tomorrow as it is Friday...

WHJ 6 years ago

UK and other European banks reeling from Libor fixing scandals, Swiss and German banks facing inquiries from regulators over high-frequency trading, BNP fined for evading American sanctions, HSBC mired in a big money laundering scandal in Mexico back in 2013....and the list goes on...ad nauseum.
Very credible banks!

Hdee 6 years ago

What a farce ! If you keep on taking such nasty decisions, it will surely harm you ( HSBC ) on the long term . Just wait and watch !!

Martin 6 years ago

any other "insides" except the ones from CNN ?
Have to laugh....

Glen 6 years ago

HSBC is known for its closure of accounts and did the same in the UAE.

Dubai: HSBC, the largest bank by market capitalisation in Europe, on Sunday confirmed it is currently reviewing the portfolio of SME (small and medium enterprise) customers and will be closing the accounts of some companies in the UAE in order to streamline its operations and increase capital returns.

The news came several weeks after the bank announced that it would shed 14,000 workers worldwide to save about $3 billion (Dh11.02 billion) in annual costs.

The bank, however, refused to disclose the number of business banking accounts that would be affected and what specific minimum capital requirements are being followed. The bank also would not confirm if the move is only targeted at SMEs.

“HSBC has been conducting a review of all its businesses since May 2011 to meet its goal of streamlining the business and improving the return on capital. As part of this, the bank is reviewing its portfolio of small business

Jonny6Pac 6 years ago

The very reason I left Barclays Bank after 13 yrs of good service is because HSBC opened the Amanah Account which is an interest free account.

I was contacted about a year ago letting me know that the Amanah account option is no longer being provided. Believe me, this is at no extra cost to HSBC but a mere computer account option.

Nobody likes to keep moving their money around as it is very inconvenient especially since you have all the online banking details, cards, standing orders, premium service. Shame on you HSBC, the world's local unprofessional bank.