The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) is disappointed at the jury decision to find in favor of the bank in the case of Life and Relief for Development (LIFE) v. Bank of America (BOA). The verdict was rendered on Tuesday August 16, 2016 at the US District Court of Eastern Michigan. Chief Judge Denise Page Hood was the presiding judge. LIFE filed the lawsuit against Bank of America alleging discrimination as the basis for the closure of their bank accounts.
AHRC-USA holds our judicial system in the highest regard and values the jury process and respects the due process granted to all parties. However, AHRC-USA hopes that the verdict in favor of Bank of America will not perpetuate practices that many Arab Americans and Muslim Americans view as unfair and discriminatory. AHRC-USA urges Bank of America and other banks to reassess their risk assessment practices.
AHRC-USA has always protested the reality of a number of American banks closing the accounts of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans apparently for no reason other than ethnicity and/or religion. Several members of the Arab and Muslim American community (individuals, businesses and others) claim that their bank accounts were arbitrarily closed without being given any reason or justification. Life for Relief & Development accounts (LIFE), a leading Arab American charity, had its bank account closed by BOA on 2012, which presented it with serious challenges in carrying out its charitable mandate.
LIFE has distributed millions of dollars worth of humanitarian relief over its years of existence and has partnered with some of the best known charitable organizations around the world. LIFE has distributed over $300 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to over 13 million beneficiaries across 23 countries. As a non-profit organization, LIFE has a consultative status with the United Nations. Locally, Life has engaged in humanitarian work that most recently included donating more than 250,000 bottles of water during the Flint Water Crisis. LIFE is currently providing relief to the victims of the State of Louisiana floods.
“While we respect the jury decision, we are deeply disappointed with it. In this day and age, human beings and institutions cannot function without a bank account and the sudden closure of a bank account causes extreme hardship to the account holder,’ stated Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director. “Many Arab and Muslim Americans believe that their bank accounts are being arbitrarily closed. Many also believe that the closures are motivated by the religion or national origin of the account holder. Discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin violates the Constitution, federal and state laws and the principles of fairness and fair play,” stated Hamad.