The Free Palestine Movement and the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund are both sock puppet accounts organized under the rubric of Paul Larudee's 501 c 3, the Association for Investment for Popular action Committees (yes, that be would "AIPAC") EIN 20-5516191.
The Vista Heights address is Paul's own home.
Paul’s priorities are interesting. If he were really interested in buying warm blankets for babies, why did he just spend $8,000 on 15 anti-Israel advertisements on San Francisco MUNI buses?
Paul whose ties to Hamas leaders have been well documented now finds himself in a quandary. Banks have refused to release the funds which had been earmarked to the “ Charitable Association for Palestinian Relief in Lebanon," quite a bit of a hike from Gaza.
From a series of emails sent out by Paul Larudee, exhorting his followers to harass bank compliance officials (I've removed the phone numbers and emails) into releasing funds:
From: FPM Newsletter
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 1:01 PM
Subject: US Banks are refusing to release the funds you sent for freezing Palestinians in Gaza
US Banks are refusing to release the funds you sent for freezing Palestinians in Gaza
It's true. You sent us nearly $5000 and now the banks are refusing to release the funds. We tried to send the first $3720 of that amount from our account at Bank of the West to the Charitable Association for Palestinian Relief in Lebanon. For this transaction, Bank of the West used the international banking services of Mellon Bank in New York.
Mellon stopped the transaction and requested further information. By that time we were in the process of changing banks, so we cancelled the transaction and asked them to return the money to our account so that we could send the money from the new bank (and add additional funds received). In addition, the information requested made no sense (for example, the personal details of Syrian ex-president Hafez al-Assad, who died fifteen years ago). Now they are threatening to confiscate the funds permanently at 4:00 p.m. TODAY Pacific time (7:00 p.m. Eastern).
We do not believe they have the legal right to do this, but we also do not want to spend a lot of money on legal services. PLEASE CALL and tell them to release the funds. They have no right to keep our money if we have canceled the transaction. We do not know what will happen after 4:00 today, but we suggest continuing to call daily for as long as is takes to release the money. We will update you whenever we have more information.
PLEASE CALL and tell them to release the funds for freezing Palestinians. And don't bank at Bank of the West or use the services of Mellon Bank.
Tanya Kazak, Vice President, Compliance Manager, Bank of the West
Karen Nelson, Customer Service Manager, El Cerrito Branch, Bank of the West
From: FPM Newsletter
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 7:47 AM
Subject: Keep calling the Banksters. Your actions are helping
Keep calling the Banksters. Your actions are helping.
Yesterday we received a call from Tanya Kazak, the Vice President and Compliance Manager for Bank of the West within 15 minutes of posting our appeal for your action. She had already received five calls and by the time we finished talking, she had received twelve. Karen Nelson at the local branch was routing her calls to the 800 number, but here is a new number for her: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Here also is the text of a message that we sent after hours to Ms. Kazak after consulting with our attorney. It explains further actions that we intend to take. Your suggestions are welcome, and if you learn anything that might be of use, please send it to us.
Vice President, Compliance Manager
Bank of the West
Our legal counsel advises us that Bank of the West is illegally withholding our funds and that you have provided no justification to demand the information that you are asking. He advises not to provide that information until and unless you demonstrate the legal necessity to do so, and he invites you to call him to discuss the matter further. His name is Tom Nelson and he can be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Until now, Bank of the West has steadfastly refused to state that Bank of New York Mellon requires the requested information as a condition of releasing the funds to be returned to the Association. In addition, Bank of the West refuses to state in writing what the consequences will be if the Association refuses to provide the requested information by your deadline of 4:00 p.m. PST, Feb. 18, 2015, which has now passed.
In the absence of such statements, we conclude that the demand is frivolous, malicious and insincere, and made in violation of the law but under the assumption that law enforcement will not act to protect our rights for a sum of money that would be within the jurisdiction of small claims court if we were an individual and not a corporation. Clearly, BNY Mellon and/or Bank of the West consider themselves to be too powerful to abide by the law and the amount too small for theft statutes to be enforced.
However, we have other means of defending our rights, and we intend to pursue them. These include state and federal banking authorities and public officials. We also have the power of our supporters and human rights advocates everywhere, whom we can ask to demand from you directly and through public demonstrations and the press to honor our rights. We can bring attention to your immoral and arrogant practices, and we can encourage the public to boycott your bank. Please do not think that we are without recourse merely because our accounts do not represent a major part of your business.
Let me remind you that Bank of the West chose to use BNY Mellon for the subject transaction. You may have business with them, but our business is with you and we hold you responsible for the return of our funds, regardless of your interaction with BNY Mellon. Please do the right thing and return our funds without delay.
What you can do:
. Keep calling Tanya Kazak at xxx-xxx-xxxx and tell her to return our funds immediately. If Bank of the West wants to use their own funds to reimburse us, we have no objection, and we will then allow them to keep any funds returned to them by Bank of New York Mellon. Call Karen Nelson at xxx-xxx-xxxx and xxx-xxx-xxxx with the same message. Perhaps sequential numbers above and below those two numbers will also work.
. Send the same message by email to (email removed)
. You may wish to call Bank of New York Mellon at xxx-xxx-xxxx We have had no direct dealings with them, but you can perhaps ask the operator to direct you to the compliance section of the international wire transfer division. You can tell them that it is in reference to a cancelled wire transfer in the amount of $3720 from the account of the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees, sent from the Bank of the West, El Cerrito, California branch to the Charitable Association for Palestinian Relief in Lebanon on January 26, 2015. They are not authorized to give you any information, but your purpose is to deliver the message to release the funds that they are illegally holding even after the transaction was cancelled. Let us know about your experience.
. If you bank at Bank of the West, find a new bank, and let us and them know. This kind of pressure makes a big difference.
Thank you for all your help. The essence of the Palestinian struggle is that we won't be bullied.
From: FPM Newsletter
Subject: [fpm.news] The latest on bank confiscation of funds for Palestinians whose homes were destroyed in Gaza
The latest on bank confiscation of funds for Palestinians whose homes were destroyed in Gaza
Your calls and emails have caused Bank of NY Mellon and Bank of the West to twice postpone their deadlines for threatened actions.
As you know, the Free Palestine Movement is a human rights advocacy organization and its sister, the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund is a humanitarian aid organization. Is it likely that we will surrender our own human rights at the same time that we fight for those of Palestinians? We don't think so.
The latest communication from Quinn Osborne, Vice President and Lead Counsel for Bank of the West says that we must answer a list of questions or "the Funds will be blocked in accordance with the U.S. sanctions laws." We would very much like to see the laws that authorize banks to block the return of funds to depositors in the case of cancelled transactions. We do not believe that such laws exist and neither does our legal counsel, Tom Nelson. We also do not believe that they have the right to ask any questions in the case of a cancelled transaction, only if they are being asked to complete the transaction.
We have already filed a complaint with the State of California and we are preparing a press release. The reference number for the wire transfer is 20150126-00006615, sent on 26 January, 2015. If you call BNY Mellon at xxx-xxx-xxxx, you can ask for the compliance section of the international wire transfer department and demand the funds of that cancelled transaction to be returned to the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund immediately. We will also try to find more numbers and email addresses for you to call and write.
Please let us know your experience and any ideas that you may have to bring further pressure on lawless banks that take upon themselves authority that they do not have. Let us know especially if you withdraw your account from Bank of the West. We know of one very big account that was already moved to another bank. Thank you!