Call to boycott HSBC after it closes down Bolton charity's account

Call to boycott HSBC after it closes down Bolton charity's account

Call to boycott HSBC after it closes down Bolton charity's account

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , politics reporter

BOSSES at an Islamic aid charity which has had its account closed by HSBC are calling on its supporters to boycott the bank.

The Ummah Welfare Trust was told by HSBC officials last week that they were no longer prepared to offer the charity banking services, as their business “falls outside their risk appetite”.

The Trust, in St Helen’s Road, Daubhill, has sent millions of pounds of aid to Gaza, an area battered by fighting between Israeli forces and militant group Hamas in recent weeks.

Mohammed Ahmad, trustee of the charity, said it was unacceptable for HSBC to shut down its account.

He said he believed the bank had taken the decision because it is an Islamic charity operating within Gaza.

Mr Ahmad said: “The point of a boycott is two-fold. The first is to get people to take a stance on principle, showing that we have done something against those who are stopping aid reaching vulnerable people.

“The second aim is to see if we can make a small hole somewhere in their finances, so they either reconsider their decision and, if not, that they daren’t do this to another aid organisation.”

He added they will ask their supporters to flood social media sites Facebook and Twitter with messages of support for Ummah.

Mr Ahmad added: “It’s hard for me to actually know what the impact will be. The problem is I don’t know what is happening behind the scenes with the bank.

"If the campaign intensifies and more support is given, then we hope that maybe they will be forced to change.”

A spokesman for HSBC said he would not comment on the planned boycott, but added that the decision was part of a worldwide review of its customer relations.

He said: “HSBC was fined US$1.9 billion in December, 2012, by the US and UK authorities and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.

“The bank is applying a programme of strategic assessments to all of its businesses.

“As a result of these ongoing reviews, we have exited relationships with business and personal customers in over 70 countries. The services we provide to charities are no exception to this global review.

“In general terms, decisions to end a customer relationship are not taken lightly, and are absolutely not based on the race or religion of a customer.”

Mr Ahmad said he believed the account was being closed because “we are an Islamic organisation”.

He added: “If the banks believed we had links with Hamas they wouldn’t have needed to choose this timing — working with the Charity Commission they could stop the account at any time, as charities shouldn’t be operating full stop (if they are funding alleged terrorist organisations).”

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