‘Wrong names’ stop Western Union transfers

Western Union has stopped the private money transfers of Arab men with typical Arab names. The company gave the men's names as justification for their action.

Several people with ordinary Arabic names have reported Western Union to the Ombudsman against ethnic discrimination (DO).

According to the report the men’s names were similar to names on international lists of suspected terrorists.

Men with common Arab names such as Hussein and Mohamed are among those who claim to have had their money transfers stopped by Western Union.

Western Union, which has its Swedish office in Trelleborg, has confirmed to Sveriges Television’s Sydnytt that they check all names against international lists of suspected terrorists. The firm was unwilling to comment further on the specific cases.

DO confirms that they have recently received several reports from private people who have deposited money and paid charges to Western Union offices which has not been transfered.

“These cases prompt a series of interesting questions that we are examining closer,” said Per Hofve, a DO lawyer to Sydnytt.

DO has written to the Financial Supervisory Board (FI) asking if Western Union has the automatic right to check its customers names against international suspected terrorist lists. Furthermore DO has sought advice as to the Swedish and international regulations that apply and the conditions imposed by the board itself on companies such as Western Union.

FI has until April 20th to reply.