Growing number of bank closures of Arab-Americans has concerned civil rights advocates as a Southfield charity battles Bank of America in court
Founded in 1992 by Iraqi-American Muslims, the Southfield-based charity Life for Relief and Development says it has donated more than $300 million in relief aid around the world, especially in Arab- and Muslim-majority countries.
But in 2012, Talmer Bancorp of Michigan and Bank of America suddenly closed its accounts, not giving any reason. Attorneys for the charity then sued the banks, saying they were discriminated against because of their Arab ancestry and Islamic faith.
The case with Talmer Bancorp was resolved and now, the case with Bank of America is on trial, with closing arguments expected Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit. On Friday, officials with Bank of America testified that their decision to shut down the account of Life for Relief and Development was not based on the ancestry of its leaders.