Metro Bank faces new legal action by Iranian customers
Metro Bank has been hit with a lawsuit by a group of Iranian customers who claim their accounts were suspended without notice or explanation.
The group of 17 claimants, who are expected to seek at least £1.5m in damages, include dual British-Iranian citizens, Iranian citizens living in the UK, and a number of UK-based businesses including an engineering firm and a consultancy.
The law firm Ronald Fletcher Baker (RFB) said its clients were blocked from their accounts and cash between May and September 2019.
“Our clients are all UK residents and they have made it clear to Metro Bank that they did not use their accounts in an unlawful or illegitimate manner,” said Rokhsareh Vahid, a sanctions and banking specialist at RFB.
“Metro Bank has not alleged that any of the claimants were involved in any illegal or illegitimate activities and it has released the restrictions on some accounts during this process, which effectively confirms that our clients were not involved in any wrongdoing,” she added.
Vahid claimed that her clients suffered financially and that one business had been forced to lay off staff.
Metro Bank is also facing a US class action suit over an accounting blunder on its loan book between March 2018 and May 2019. The suit was filed after the lender revealed the misclassification of £900m of loans as less risky than they were, an error that is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The bank is also reviewing its own compliance controls after it discovered it had breached US sanctions in Cuba and Iran in 2017 and 2019 respectively. There is no evidence suggesting the account suspensions referred to in the latest lawsuit and those breaches are related.
A Metro Bank spokeswoman said: “Metro Bank takes its responsibilities, in line with UK regulations, to ensure the integrity of the UK financial system and protect it from financial crime very seriously. Metro Bank will defend itself vigorously should this go any further.”