HSBC has been accused of ethnically profiling its customers after closing bank accounts belonging to Syrian refugees and students in the UK.
Evidence obtained exclusively by the Independent shows the bank sent letters to numerous Syrian clients living in the UK telling them their accounts would be closed with just two months notice.
The bank said its practice is “not based on race or religion” but was a reaction to international obligations concerning payments to certain countries.
HSBC told me it had nothing to do with me as a customer – the issue was that I was a Syrian citizen.
I’m a student. I have no money and I’m here thanks to a scholarship. I live on £400 a month and I’ve never transferred money to Syria. This is a case of discrimination.
They could have checked my balance and my records, but they simply decided to close my account.
- Majid Maghout, 26-year-old Syrian student
An HSBC spokesperson told the Independent: “HSBC is committed to adopting and enforcing the most effective standards to combat financial crime across its operations globally.
"This applies to customers with links to a country that is subject to international financial sanctions.
"In certain cases, an assessment of the risks involved may require ending a customer relationship.”
For full interviews and case studies read Maria Tadeo's exclusive here