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Peter Oborne, BBC Radio 4 (28 July 2015) : ‘… In late July last year Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque near the Emirates football stadium in north London, was astonished to receive a letter out of the blue from his bankers, HSBC. The letter informed him that his bank account was to be closed… Other HSBC clients who suddenly fell outside the bank’s “risk appetite” included the Cordoba Foundation, a think tank which says that it specialises in building relations between the Muslim world and the West…

So what happened and why were the accounts closed? When we started to investigate we ran up against a wall of silence. HSBC refuses to discuss the bank account closures. But we learned about World-Check, a confidential database owned by the financial information giant Thomson Reuters… When we obtained access to the database, the word “terrorism” came up in dark red, directly above the name of the Cordoba Foundation. The World-Check website page sourced the “terrorism” claim to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE lists the Cordoba Foundation as a terror group…

World-Check also listed Finsbury Park Mosque under the category “terrorism”. In the case of the mosque, World-Check dealt in detail with the period when it was under the control of Abu Hamza, an al-Qaeda-sympathising cleric with proven links to terrorism. However, a new management committee, led by Mohammed Kozbar and with the tacit approval of the Metropolitan Police, took over the running of the mosque a decade ago… HSBC refuses to answer questions about the closures….

There have been no further suggestions of terrorist involvement. Though this information was included by World-Check, it took careful reading to get to it. World-Check’s profiles are created from publicly available information of the kind that anyone can access. However it is not clear that banks can always reach an informed decision about clients based on the World-Check information.  click here.

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