Alex and Ani, the charm bracelet company founded by multimillionaire of Armenian origin Carolyn Rafaelian, alleges in a lawsuit that Bank of America is violating federal law by engaging in gender discrimination against the women-led company, The Forbes reported.
The lawsuit seeks $1.1 billion in damages and claims that Bank of America’s “gender bias and greed” poses an “existential threat” to Alex and Ani’s business.
According to the lawsuit, Bank of America falsely declared in December 2018 that Alex and Ani defaulted on its $170 million loan, which it took out to buy a factory, and then cut off its access to a $50 million revolving line of credit. Alex and Ani did default a few times, but Bank of America waived the default and amended their agreement, the source noted referring to the company.
“For more than six months now, Bank of America has been both driving Alex and Ani towards bankruptcy and milking it for literally tens of millions of dollars in fees,” the lawsuit reads. “The endgame is clear: Bank of America wants the women out of power at Alex and Ani. It wants to bring back the good old days, when a male Alex and Ani CFO let Bank of America charge whatever it wanted for BofA’s putative ‘services.’”
Bill Halldin, a spokesperson for Bank of America, denies the gender discrimination allegations.
The suit also puts forth an additional theory for its financial troubles that feels like it was cooked up by a conspiracy theorist: Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder in Bank of America, allegedly invested, the complaint says, in a Chinese jewelry company that makes Alex and Ani knockoffs. Warren Buffett could not be reached for comment at press time.
Carolyn Rafaelian was ranked 42nd on 2019 Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women with a net worth of $520 million. Her fortune comes largely from her majority stake in spiritual bangle brand Alex and Ani, which she founded in 2004.