One of the nation’s biggest banks went into damage control overdrive today after it reportedly froze the bank account of the startup gay social networking site, Fabulis.com, for what it described as “objectionable content” on the company’s blog.
According to Fabulis founder Jason Goldberg, he was told by three different Citibank employees that his site was “not in compliance with Citibank’s standard policies.”
We reported the story earlier today, as did hundreds of news organizations, gay-oriented sites and bloggers, and banking industry sites, setting off widespread speculation that the bank’s action was a homophobic response to a gay-themed website.
Upon reflection, Goldberg could not understand what the bank deemed “objectionable?” But more important he questioned, “when did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who could bank with them?”
News comes late today that Citibank has relented, reports Goldberg, who received this email from William E. Brown of Citibank:
We have not been formally introduced and I imagine that this is a poor way to become acquainted. I am responsible for the Citibank Branches in Manhattan and have just learned today of the challenges you have experienced in opening an account with us.
I apologize for any confusion about the status of your account and the Fabulis website. Whatever statements that were made by any Citi representative related to the content of your website were inappropriate and made in error, and I will review in detail what happened. You have my firm commitment on this point.
I truly regret any unintended message that my employees may have conveyed about your new business venture. I place great value on your business and assure you that Citi is committed to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. In fact, this week Citi has announced the financing for the True Colors Residence, a housing facility for homeless GLBT youth in New York City.
I recognize that, to this point, this dialogue has been carried out on the internet via postings. You may choose to post this apology, however, please do not doubt the sincerity of my message and the responsibility I have for ensuring our customers do not encounter a similar experience.
Goldberg writes that he informed Brown that he has accepting his apology, but has not decided whether to continue banking with Citibank.