sanctions 19 March 2020

Metro Bank faces lawsuit for freezing accounts of Britain-based Iranians

The UK’s Metro Bank Plc is facing a lawsuit by British-based Iranians and Britons of Iranian origin who are seeking compensation for denial of access to their accounts without notice or explanation. So says the law firm representing 17 claimants.

Law firm Ronald Fletcher Baker said it has investigated cases between 20 May 2019 and 5 September 2019, during which some of the claimants were unable to access funds or banking facilities.

‘None were found to have acted improperly and most of the accounts have since been closed,’ the firm said.

The lawsuit claims that Metro Bank restricted the bank accounts of 17 Iranian and British nationals and British companies with Iranian directors.

‘Ronald Fletcher Baker is seeking all available remedies from Court for its clients including appropriate declarations regarding Metro Bank’s breaches of law, compensation, interest, and legal costs,’ the firm said.

The Guardian newspaper has reported that the 17 claimants are expected to seek at least £1.5 million in damages.

‘Our clients are all UK residents and they have made it clear to Metro Bank PLC that they did not use their accounts in an unlawful or illegitimate manner,’ said Rokhsareh Vahid, Sanctions and Banking Specialist at Ronald Fletcher Baker

‘Metro Bank has not alleged that any of the claimants were involved in any illegal or illegitimate activities,’ she explained.

The latest lawsuit comes as Metro Bank faces a US class action suit over a massive accounting error of £900 million in loans. Metro was also involved in breach of US sanctions on Iran and Cuba in 2017 and 2019.

Any potential trial in the latest case involving the Iranian clients in Britain is expected to take place about a year from now.

The newspaper quoted a bank spokeswoman as saying that ‘Metro Bank will defend itself vigorously should this go any further.’