OTTAWA — A major Canadian bank has begun to close the accounts of some of its customers to comply with new federal regulations that govern economic sanctions against Iran.
TD Bank Group has confirmed it has been sending letters to clients telling them, under recent changes to the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulation, Canadian financial institutions are forbidden from providing financial services to anyone in Iran or for the benefit of Iran.
That appears to include any use of an account to send or receive money via wire transfer to or from friends and family in Iran.
So far, it seems no other Canadian bank has taken similar action, but TD Bank Group spokesman Mohammed Nakhooda said the bank is simply following regulations set out by the Canadian government.
A CIBC spokesperson said the bank has frozen some accounts in compliance with federal regulations.
But CIBC does not appear to have gone to the same lengths as TD. Officials from other banks were not available for comment Thursday.
TD said it tried to contact customers who were affected by the regulations, and in cases where they did not hear back, the bank was forced to close their accounts, Nakhooda said.
"In no way is TD targeting the Iranian-Canadian community," Nakhooda said Thursday. "We are simply following regulations set out by the sanctions."
According to the Iranian Canadian Congress, many Iranian-Canadians across Canada have received these letters.
Kaveh Shahrooz, vice-president of the ICC, said the organization became aware of the letters a couple of months ago, although reports of more letters have increased in the past few weeks.
The ICC could not specify how many Canadians it has heard from, but said it is now starting to receive two to three reports from Iranian-Canadians a day.
"These are people's livelihoods," said Shahrooz. "They're worried that if they can't do banking with TD, they can't do banking with any other bank out there."
— Postmedia News