Muslim American Society Discuss with Fleet over Closing of Accounts

April 4, 2003

Source: The Boston Globe

On April 4, 2003 The Boston Globe reported that "officials from the Muslim American Society are in discussions with FleetBoston Financial Corp., asking the bank to re-examine its recent decisions to close at least 15 accounts of individuals or institutions with Arabic names... Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, said Fleet 'is a test case' and the effort might spread to other large national banks that he said might be engaging in discriminatory practices... Fleet spokesman James E. Mahoney, who met with Bray on Wednesday, said 'there has been no purposeful discrimination on the part of Fleet.' Mahoney would not discuss the specific accounts yesterday. But he said, 'The decisions we make regarding account closing are based on account activity, not on factors such as ethnicity, race, religion, and country of origin...' The Federal Reserve and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency oversee banking, and federal law enforcement authorities work with banks to uncover suspected money laundering and potential terrorist activity. If the federal government asks a bank like Fleet to close an account, the bank complies with the request, officials said. Fleet would not say whether it closed the 15 accounts because of government requests or its own surveillance."