AJC Calls for Probe of Arabs Trying to Buy Two N.Y. Banks

The American Jewish Congress has called on the New York State Banking Superintendent to determine the “real owners” of an Arab consortium that is seeking to gain control of an American bank holding company that owns the Bank of Commerce in New York and the Community State Bank of Albany.

Will Maslow, general counsel of the AJCongress, told a hearing yesterday before Banking Superintendent Muriel Siebert that one of the members of the consortium — Kamal Adham, former director of intelligence for Saudi Arabia — was reportedly acting for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“A prompt and thorough investigation should be undertaken before the purchase is approved,” Maslow declared, adding: “We are concerned that Arab control of two New York banks may lead to discrimination against present or former employees of these banks or to discrimination in the administration of its credit policies.

“We realize that banks are well-regulated in this state and that such employment and credit discrimination is forbidden by New York law. We believe, however, that the people of New York are entitled to even more protection.”

Maslow cited a 1975 precedent, when the UBAF Arab American Bank sought permission to establish a branch in New York State. At that time, he recalled, John Heiman, the Superintendent of Banks, required the UBAF incorporators to sign a pledge that the bank would operate in a completely non-discriminatory way.

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