NDG businessman wins lawsuit against Bank – NDG businessman Hossein Pourshafiey just won a “David vs Goliath” Quebec Superior Court ruling after the Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank closed his bank accounts with no explanation. And Pourshafiey tells The Times that other members of the Iranian community are commonly victims of such actions by banks.
In October, 2012 Pourshafiey was told by TD officials that six of his personal and business bank accounts would be closed in 30 to 60 days. No explanation for the closure was given. The business accounts included his company, Money Wise Financial, a currency exchange service on St. Jacques Street, as well as his mortgage for a home in Cote St Luc.
“A carpenter works with his tools: saws, hammers, etc. For me, bank accounts are my tools and the bank took them away,” Pourshafiey told The Times. “Other members of the Iranian community in Montreal had been telling me of similar things. Then it happened to me.”
Alan Stein, Pourshafiey’s lawyer, heralds the July 26 judgment as “a landmark case” in establishing that banks cannot arbitrarily close a bank account without explanation. Stein also praised his client for having the courage to go to court. Stein was previously involved with a case by victims of disgraced financier Earl Jones against the Royal Bank.
“This hit me like a sledgehammer; my life was instantly turned upside down,” continued Pourshafiey. “All of a sudden, I couldn’t pay for anything. They shut down my income. My wife became ill with all this happening.”
“You have no idea of what I have been through. I opened Money Wise in 1997. The banks see financial services as competition, and are reluctant to open accounts for such businesses, especially after another bank has closed the account.”
Pourshafiey, who came to Canada from Iran 47 years ago, also relates how members of the Iranian community came to him with similar complaints against Canadian banks. “Seniors on pensions from Iran had had heir bank accounts closed with no reason given. International students on visas have found their accounts frozen in the middle of exam period, again with no explanation. This is a huge injustice! Someone had to defend them.”
He initially tried talking to the bank manager at TD’s Guy and Ste-Catherine Street branch. “He treated me very well but could not say why they closed my bank accounts.” Subsequent contacts with customer service and TD’s head office similarly produced no answer.
“Yes, I know the contract that I signed with the bank states that they can close the accounts, but they need to give a reason. I am the father of five children and know that you cannot reprimand a child without telling him the reason for it.”
Under the Harper Conservatives, Ottawa applied various trade sanctions against Iran in response to Iran’s nuclear and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. In 2012, Canada closed its embassy in Iran and it remains closed today.
“Canada’s sanctions against Iran had nothing to do with this,” insists Pourshafiey. “You are still allowed to send money back and fourth for personal transactions, such as pensions earned in Iran. Under the law, you can transfer up to $40,000.” He also claims to operate his businesses “by the book” and that government regulators audited his businesses three times to found nothing wrong.
Pourshafiey asked that the amount of the settlement not be revealed here, adding that: “no money can ever compensate what have been through!” It is unclear if TD plans to appeal the judgment.