Novi bank executives accused of sending racist emails

Emails alleged to belittle Indian-American customers at Novi bank

Published On: Mar 26 2013 06:35:14 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 26 2013 07:43:03 PM EDT
NOVI, Mich. -

Executives at Lotus Bank in Novi are the targets of a lawsuit for allegedly sending racist mails targeting Indian-Americans.

Roughly 1/3 of the customers at Lotus Bank are Indian-Americans, as are 14 of the bank's 17 directors.

The lawsuit is directed at Lotus Bank CEO Neal Searle and two vice presidents.

Liz Thompson represents two Indian businessmen who believe their ethnicity played a role in the bank's request to foreclose on a business loan.

Thompson said some of the most offensive comments were allegedly made by bank vice president Richard Bauer. She quoted from the email.

"I will leave you with the sage advice from Gen. Custer and most Pakistanis: the only good Indian is a dead Indian," Thompson read.

Liz Thompson said the emails surfaced when someone mailed them to one of her clients.

"I think it's a very brave and good move and needed to be done. I think whoever the person is, we are appreciative it is that it happened," Thompson said.

It is not known how the emails were obtained.

Thompson said emails allegedly written by Bauer also made reference to bank board members, who are primarily of Indian descent, as "chimps."

"It's absolutely shocking to me, it's appalling to me that in this day and age, that this level of discrimination continues," Thompson said.

A statement from one of the plaintiffs, Jasit Takhar, said he felt outraged when he saw how head management really felt about Indian customers.

The plaintiffs are asking other customers to join them, so the suit can be filed as a class action.

The bank's chairman, Chris Malempati, told Local 4 the lawsuit has no merit.

However, Malempati said the three executives have been reprimanded and punished financially, but are still employed by the bank.


Neal Searle