The founder of a start-up social networking site for gay men has accused Citi of blocking the firm's bank account because it finds the content of his blogs "objectionable".
In a blog posted yesterday, Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of Fabulis, says: "In a bit of strange and disturbing news, fabulis discovered today that someone(s) at Citibank had decided arbitrarily to block fabulis' bank account due to what was described to us on the phone as "objectionable content" on our blog."
The account had been blocked for several days, without the firm being informed.
Fabulis, a site where gay men can discuss and share places to visit and find reviews of what to see there, recently raised $625,000 in seed funding. Goldberg is a serial entrepreneur, whose previous venture Socialmedian, a personalised news filter that integrates with social networking platforms, was sold to Zing for $7.5 million in 2008.
The new site is not set to officially launch until the Spring but has been posting regular blogs for several weeks covering the business's plans and showing photos and videos sent by readers.
Goldberg says he can't find anything "objectionable" in the blog and asks: "When did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who can bank with them?"
The block on the account has been temporarily lifted while a compliance officer reviews the site. Goldberg says the account will be moved to another bank if a "good response" is not provided.
Citi has yet to reply to a request for comment.
Goldberg has published an e-mail apology received from Bill Brown, responsible for Citibank branches in Manhattan.
Says Brown: "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."
Goldberg has accepted the apology but is asking readers whether Fabulis should move its account or give Citi "a second chance".