Washington, DC – For years, the National Iranian American Council has tracked reports as Iranian Americans, Iranian nationals, and other minority groups have faced discriminatory bank account closures. One of the biggest culprits of these practices, Bank of America, has refuted discriminatory intent and falsely claimed account suspensions were necessary to comply with U.S. sanction laws.
In July 2019, NIAC sent a letter to David Leitch, General Counsel for Bank of America, providing clarification of sanctions laws and calling for an end to the discriminatory practice of bank account closures, following previous letters in 2018 and 2014. In spite of this outreach, Bank of America failed to end their discriminatory practices and has yet to face consequences for over-complying with sanctions regulations – until now. A class action lawsuit targeting Bank of America’s discriminatory practices against persons of Iranian descent has been upheld by the Honorable Judge Cynthia Bashant of the Southern District of California, allowing the class action to advance to the next stage of the legal process. Judge Bashant’s report cited NIAC’s letters and other public commentary as evidence of Bank of America’s discriminatory intent in allowing the class action lawsuit to move forward.
Read more on the class action lawsuit here.
Jamal Abdi, President with the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement welcoming the class action lawsuit targeting Bank of America for discrimination against account holders of Iranian heritage:
“It is welcome news that one of the biggest culprits of discriminatory account closures in Bank of America is facing legal scrutiny over its terrible treatment of Iranian customers. Iranian Americans and Iranian nationals alike deserve to be able to bank without fear that their heritage will trigger discriminatory account closures in a bid to comply with U.S. sanctions. Regrettably, Bank of America has been the number one source of complaints from our community regarding no-notice account closures, which have thrown so many people and families into financial panic.
“We applaud Mr. Nia, Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, and Singleton Schreiber McKenzie & Scott LLP for their work in pursuit of justice, and are pleased that NIAC’s work on behalf of our members played a role in the class action being upheld by the district court. Banks and others who think that they can target the Iranian-American community should be on notice: we will not accept discrimination and will leave no stone unturned to ensure that discrimination is halted against our community and justice prevails.”
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