Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Peter MacKay's Wife Says TD Account Closures Harmed Innocent Iranian Canadians

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Peter MacKay's Wife Says TD Account Closures Harmed Innocent Iranian Canadians

Article excerpt

MacKay's wife shocked by TD account closures

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TORONTO - The Iranian-born wife of Defence Minister Peter MacKay says she is shocked at TD Canada Trust's decision to close a number of accounts belonging to Iranian Canadians without offering them a proper explanation.

TD (TSX:TD) began notifying Iranian-Canadian clients in May that it would no longer provide them with banking services -- in some cases referring to Ottawa's economic sanctions against the Tehran regime.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a dedicated human rights activist, says she believes the bank "unintentionally misinterpreted" the broad application of the sanctions, aimed at cracking down on Iran's nuclear program.

"I think they should have done more investigation rather than harming innocent Iranian Canadians," she said in an interview from her home in New Glasgow, N.S.

Members of the Iranian-Canadian community have expressed outrage at the bank's decision, saying they feel they're being treated as second-class citizens.

TD has not publicly revealed how many accounts belonging to Iranian Canadians have been closed, but community leaders say they've received complaints from across the country.

Afshin-Jam says that Iranian-Canadian friends of her father in Vancouver had their TD accounts closed despite having lived in Canada for many years with no ties to the Iranian government.

"I definitely think they are entitled to an answer and evidence, that's a basic premise of law -- the right to face your accuser -- and I think there's nothing better than honesty and transparency in this kind of situation," she says.

In a statement released Thursday, TD said it is required to comply with Canadian bank laws and regulations, "including economic sanctions, which prohibit us from providing financial services to or for the benefit of certain countries, or any person in those countries. …

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