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Lloyds TSB forces closure of Interpal's bank account

Lloyds TSB forces closure of Interpal's bank account
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Lloyds TSB forces closure of Interpal's bank account9

Finance | Tania Mason | 19 Nov 2008

Interpal, the controversial UK-based Palestinian charity, is facing closure after Lloyds TSB instructed the Islamic Bank of Britain to shut its bank account.

Interpal which is on a list of banned organisations in the US because of suspected links with terrorists, is also under investigation by the UK Charity Commission for the third time.

The first two investigations by the Commission, which concluded in 1996 and 2003, found no evidence of any wrongdoing by the charity. The latest one, which opened in December 2006, is examining fresh concerns about the potential for inappropriate links between the charity and terrorist supporters of Hamas, the government of Gaza.

Yet the suspicions of US intelligence services appear to have proved enough of a warning bell for Lloyds, which has told the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) to close Interpal's account on 8 December. Lloyds has the power to do this because it is a clearing bank and clears all the IBB's cheques.

In light of the news, Interpal's chair Ibrahim Hewitt issued a statement to supporters warning that the situation "has the potential to force us to cease operations early next month". Early December is also the start of the Muslim festival Eid, traditionally a time of prolific charitable giving.

Potential to damage community cohesion

"This has the potential to not only damage Interpal but also to affect community relations and cohesion in Britain," he said.

"It is, at the very least, an example of the utter lack of respect faced by the Muslim community from some hostile quarters in this country."

Hewitt added that IBB had offered its total support but is "apparently powerless, throwing into question the autonomy of Britan's burgeoing Islamic finance sector".

In a further statement on the charity's website this week, Interpal said the Islamic Bank "remains threatened by Lloyds' demands and thus faces closure itself".

It accused Lloyds TSB of treating IBB in a discriminatory fashion and called it "an Islamophobic attack on the rights of all British Muslims".

‘Dangerous precedent'

"Other Muslim charities now face the same discrimination and their accounts can be closed down without adequate warning or explanation. At a time when ties amongst communities need to be strengthened, this sets a dangerous precedent for discrimination on all British citizens and account-holders."

Interpal blamed "pressures from foreign groups" for Lloyds TSB's action. It has asked its supporters to write to Lloyds and the IBB demanding they rescind the "outrageous, unfair and arbitrary" decision.

If the account is closed, it will be the second time Interpal has had to find a new bank - NatWest "reluctantly" closed its account in April 2007 after a group of families of Israeli suicide bomb victims launched a claim against the bank in the US.

Supporters of the charity say it is only prudent for Interpal to have some dealings with Hamas. One supporter wrote on the Muslimmatters website: "How is a charity meant to avoid interacting with members of a country's democratically-elected government? Especially in a place as chaotic as Palestine, where one needs to have good contacts at every level in order to get anything done."

Lloyds TSB and the Islamic Bank of Britain both refused to comment.

SYKESLEONOR26
IT support
ERT
10 Sep 2010

Some time before, I needed to buy a building for my firm but I didn't have enough money and couldn't order anything. Thank heaven my colleague proposed to take the personal loans (link removed) at reliable creditors. Thus, I acted that and was happy with my commercial loan.

Mustafa Chaudhary
12 Jan 2009

With the massacre taking place in Gaza, one has to question Lloyds TSB's motives for moving to close down Interpal. It really is very disturbing indeed that there is a possibility that Lloyds TSB has been complicit in hindering the work of aid agencies, just when they were need most. This matter needs to be fully investigated.

AJ
13 Dec 2008

Kettering Town FC play with Interpal (Palestine Aid) on their shirts. Their Chairman has returned a Lloyds TSB award in protest. There is also a petition at this site:
www.ketteringtownfc.co.uk/index.php?q=node/329

Tania Mason
Group editor
Charity Finance
11 Dec 2008

Ahmed, I take issue with your assertion that my story is biased. It is absolutely undeniable that Interpal is 'controversial' - the facts of this story bears that out, surely?

And if you read the third sentence of the story you will see I have said that the first two Charity Commission investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Tania Mason
Group editor, Charity Finance

Ahmed
11 Dec 2008

This seems a direct result of lobby groups in the US. The Charity Commission has wasted time and money investigating a charity mainly because it helps Palestinians while Israel simply want them to starve to death.

Also, the article seems to be written in a very bias manner:

"Interpal, the controversial UK-based Palestinian charity..."

"Interpal (pictured), which is on a list of banned organisations in the US because of suspected links with terrorists, is also under investigation by the UK Charity Commission for the third time."

It's funny how the right words can give people completely the wrong impression. The operative word above is 'suspected', and why is it suspected? Because of unfounded allegations by pro-Zionist lobbies. Tania mentions that is under investigation for the 3rd time but not that is has been found to have no links with terrorists in the previous 2 investigations, also prompted by the US no doubt! Disgraceful.

SA
Accountant
7 Dec 2008

Whatever makes Palestine and indeed Gaza stronger is not in the interest of the US. Especially if it also involves feeding Palestinian children.

Yasin
Financial Advisor
HSBC
2 Dec 2008

Absolutely ridiculous, I can't believe we jump every time the US says so. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing what so ever against Interpal. However that in the past has not mattered as their account was closed anyway with NatWest. If Lloyds TSB is allowed to bully other banks such as IBB in this way that will be truly sad. Interpal is actually supported by many MP’s in parliament and to say it is controversial is not true.

I also find it exceptionally alarming that Interpal’s account has been told to be closed by Lloyds on the very day that Palestinian children would potentially receive the most food supplies of the year as this day will be the Islamic celebration of Eid where many people would be giving charity. Some purposely ill timed, ill intentioned measurements taken by this bank that we have bailed out with our Tax recently.

Aiza
Student
21 Nov 2008

The US 'intelligence' (yeah right) services' so-called suspicions on Interpal's links is no justifiable reason for shutting down a charity's account.

As mentioned above, two previous investigations proved that Interpal were not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Lloyds TSB should call for a private investigation before taking drastic action.

I hate how the US has so much say about what goes on in Britain. It's pathetic really.

To be honest, I don't really care about Interpal's situation. I just think that this could lead to unfair discrimination against Muslims based on unfounded accusations and suspicions from the US.

Joe
20 Nov 2008

The answer for Interpal is simple: Stop dealing with terrorists and there will be no problems. When you get down in the gutter, you inevitably get dirty.

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