BlackRock executive takes on federal government over preferred-traveler rejection

By  –  Senior staff reporter, Boston Business Journal

A senior executive at global investing powerhouse BlackRock Inc. sued the United States Customs and Border Protection service in federal court yesterday, asking a judge to make the agency explain why it refused to grant him privileged traveler status.

Matthew Bernard Botein, of Brookline, states that Customs and Border Protection not only won’t say why it refused to let him into its Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program but won’t even acknowledge his requests for an explanation.

The program, according to Customs and Border Control literature, provides for “expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States” and requires a “rigorous background check and interview before enrollment.”

Upon winning Trusted Traveler designation, participants in most cases can use kiosks that scan their U.S. passports and fingerprints to speed entry.

It’s a program that would seem made-to-order for road warrior executives. And Botein, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, would seem to fit the bill. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, he is the chief investment officer for alternatives at BlackRock, according to a Bloomberg biography.

Botein states in his suit that he applied for membership in the Global Entry Trusted Traveler program but was denied without explanation. He then filled a federal Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request but got no response, the suit states. Then he wrote and faxed an agency official tasked with responding to FOIA requests but has received no acknowledgment of the requests.

A Customs spokeswoman declined to comment on pending litigation.

Botein, who is represented by attorney Daryl DeValerio Andrews, wants an explanation of his rejection from the government and attorneys’ fees.

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