European Bank Under Fire for BDS Account

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Sparkasse branch in Leipzig, Germany. Sparkasse is part of Erste Group Bank AG, one of Europe's biggest banks. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A Sparkasse branch in Leipzig, Germany. Sparkasse is part of Erste Group Bank AG, one of Europe’s biggest banks. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A major European bank has been accused of providing an account to a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) group in Austria, The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

In the face of demands from Jewish activists to close the account, the sprawling Vienna-based Erste Group bank, which has branches in Central and Eastern Europe, has so far refused to answer the charge.

“The bank should tell BDS Austria to take its business elsewhere,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said on Tuesday, adding that doing businesses with BDS could give Erste Group “a black eye because of anti-Semitism.”

The General Secretary of Vienna’s Jewish community, Raimund Fastenbauer, said last week that Erste Group should close the account.

“Our president [Oskar Deutsch] said at a rally that the BDS campaign is anti-Semitic,” added Fastenbauer.

Asked about the BDS account, Christian Hromatka, a spokesman for Erste Group, told the Post : “For reasons of bank secrecy we are not allowed to exchange information regarding a bank account to a third party. Our internal security measures are suitable to employ the appropriate measures in the event of irregularities or legal problems.”

The Erste Group boasts an increase in customers “from 600,000 to 16.6 million in just over ten years, through growth in Austria and expansion in Central and Eastern Europe, where it has so far acquired 10 banks.”