Mar 5 2014
Minneapolis-based banks have been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why. Of course they know why. Banks don’t want to be associated with funding terrorism, with which many in the predominantly Somali Muslim community are associated, especially in Minnesota.
Mint Press News For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.
In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice. He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”
“A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News.
Another Minneapolis Muslim resident says his TCF account was closed after a 12- to 15-year banking relationship. A doctor and practicing Muslim, the appellant says he learned his account was closed when he “received an unregistered/uncertified envelope at my doorstep that contained a check for the balance of my entire account with TCF bank and a letter stating that my account had been closed.”
According to Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Minnesota chapter, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013.
CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.
As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names. “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”
Concerned that the accounts were closed not because these individuals had negative transactions or suspicious activity on their accounts, but solely because the individuals identified with the Islamic community, CAIR-MN wrote a letter to TCF Bank.
In February 2014, the director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of Muslim clients whose accounts were closed by TCF Bank without explanation.
In response to the accusations, Mark Goldman, senior vice president and director of corporate communications for TCF Financial Corporation, said, “TCF is disappointed the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights has chosen to file an ambiguous claim that prevents the bank from responding more specifically to a serious allegation. We believe that the facts will show that this issue is about compliance with federal law and is in no way an issue of discrimination.”
Abd Alla said CAIR-MN approached TCF Bank before filing the complaint, hoping to resolve the issue, but says the bank has “denied any wrongdoing despite the evidence in the case.”
Goldman added that TCF is not able to respond to the allegations made by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights “because the complaint does not specifically identify any of the individuals or the specific facts related to their claims.” With that being said, Goldman explained, “TCF does not close a customer account unless it has a legitimate reason to do so.
The fact that these individuals are Palestinian-American, Syrian-American, Iraqi-American, Indian-American, Pakistani-American and Somali-American may mean that their bank accounts are watched more intensely than others, and there may have been stricter guidelines set in place regarding what the federal government viewed as appropriate transactions.
Though it’s not known how many denial-of-banking letters have been issued nationwide, according to CAIR’s Michigan office, several members of the Islamic community have had their accounts closed by Chase Bank.