BUSINESS

CIBC Slapped With Discrimination Complaint Over Closing Iranian's Bank Account

04/17/2015 10:16 EDT | Updated 06/17/2015 05:59 EDT
CP
A Montreal university student has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, after CIBC told him he would have to close his bank account because he's Iranian.

When CBC News first reported Arash Khodadadi's story in December, the only reason he'd been given for the decision to shut down his account was that he had an Iranian passport.

CIBC apologized and acknowledged the mistake after Khodadadi went public, but Khodadadi said it wasn't enough.

He said the way he was treated was humiliating.

"Immediately after the story went public, I met with the director of the branch that closed my account, where he offered to take me out to dinner if that's what would make me happy," Khodadadi said.

"I was shocked and speechless. That was humiliating."

At first Khodadadi, 25, thought he would let the whole thing go.

But after speaking with a lawyer, he changed his mind.

"My desire is to avoid this from happening to anyone ever again," he told CBC News, adding that it's important for him to get a formal public apology.

Khodadadi is also asking for financial compensation.

"I have yet to be offered a reasonable amount," he said.

CIBC 'regrets mistake'

CIBC declined to discuss the case in detail because it is a private client issue, but a spokesperson did provide the following statement:

"CIBC regrets the mistake that we made in closing this client's account and have taken a number of steps to resolve this with the client including: a verbal and written apology, an offer to reopen the account and a financial goodwill gesture. In addition we have reinforced our policy with our front-line team to ensure that this unfortunate error is not repeated."

Now that Khodadadi's complaint has been received by the human rights commission, there are several possible outcomes, including mediation.

If an investigator is assigned to the case, they could make one of three recommendations: the complaint could be dismissed, sent to conciliation, or referred to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for further examination.

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