Ajcongress Suit Cites Two New York Banks with Aiding Arab Boycott

The American Jewish Congress filed a complaint with the State Division of Human Rights today, charging the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of New York and Citibank with aiding the Arab boycott in violation of the state’s Lisa Law which makes it illegal to cooperate in a boycott based on race, color, creed, national origin or sex.

The two banks were charged specifically in the complaint with accepting letters of credit containing requirements for compliance with the Arab boycott and refusing to make payment against the letters of credit unless certification of boycott compliance was furnished.

Louis Yavner, a national vice-president of the AJ Congress who announced the action at a press conference here today, accused the two banks of serving as “enforcers” of the Arab boycott process. He said they were in “flagrant violation of the law” and “play a pivotal role in the implementation of the Arab boycott.”

ENFORCERS OF BOYCOTT

According to Yavner, “By refusing to make payments against letters of credit issued by their Arab customers unless American suppliers certify they have complied with the boycott these banks serve as ‘enforcers’ of the Arab boycott. The result is the importation of Arab bigotry into American society and the distortion of American business practices.”

He said that “By giving the aura of business respectability to Arab discrimination on the basis of national origin, Citibank and Morgan Guaranty Trust are opening the door to wider subordination of American business to Arab prejudice, thus threatening the integrity of all groups in American life.”

In accusing Citibank and Morgan Guaranty Trust of implementing the Arab boycott, the AJ Congress complaint charges that before paying against letters of credit issued by their Arab customers, the two banks require certification that: the goods shipped are not produced by and contain no parts produced by persons of Israeli national origin, and neither the exporter, manufacturer or supplier of the goods shipped–nor any subsidiary, affiliate or branch–is on any Arab blacklist.

Also, that the carrier of the goods is not of Israeli origin and will not call at Israeli ports or travel through Israeli waters or airspace; the carrier of the goods is not on any Arab blacklist; and that the insurer of the goods for shipment is not on any Arab blacklist.

Yavner quoted two separate statements made this year by representatives of the banks admitting to the charges with respect to their processing of letters of credit. He also accused the banks of violating a directive issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on Dec. 12, 1975, enjoining banks from participating “even passively, in efforts by foreign nationals to effect boycotts against other foreign countries friendly to the United States, particularly where such boycott efforts may cause discrimination against United States citizens or business….”

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