In addition to Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC, there are number of other cases in which plaintiffs have sought damages from banks under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). One of the main questions in these lawsuits is whether international financial institutions should be held liable for the millions of routine, automated transactions that they process, even when proper compliance requirements are followed and the parties were in good standing at the time. These cases, brought against businesses with global reach from the U.K., France, Switzerland, China, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, have similar legal implications.
Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC
An American plaintiff claiming injuries resulting from an alleged Hamas attack along the Israel-Gaza border sued Arab Bank in 2011, on largely the same allegations as the Linde plaintiffs. Senior Judge Jack B. Weinstein, also of the Eastern District, incorporated the full evidentiary record from Linde, rejected the sanctions order issued by the Judge Gershon, and granted the Bank’s summary judgment motion after concluding:
- “Plaintiff must establish by a preponderance of evidence that the Bank recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally, and proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries, either by the Bank’s own actions or in a conspiracy with Hamas or other terrorist organizations . . . It cannot do so.”
- “There is no proof that anything but routine financial services to the charities alleged to be front organizations were provided, and none of the charities were designated by the United States as front groups when the charities received services from the Bank.”
Click here to read more about the Gill case.
Weiss v. National Westminster Bank and Applebaum v. National Westminster Bank
The same American plaintiffs suing Arab Bank in Linde filed lawsuits against NatWest in 2005 and 2007 alleging that it provided financial services, including bank accounts, to an alleged Hamas “front” charity (U.K.-based Interpal) while it was designated by OFAC as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” On November 13, 2012, NatWest submitted a letter to the District Court, arguing that Judge Weinstein’s decision to grant Arab Bank’s motion for summary judgment in Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC supports NatWest’s motion to dismiss the claims of the Weiss and Applebaum plaintiffs. (Click here to read the full letter.) On March 28, 2013, Judge Dora H. Irizarry of the Eastern District Court granted summary judgment to the defendant banks in Weiss v. National Westminster Bank and Applebaum v. National Westminster Bank. In granting NatWest’s motion for summary judgment, Judge Irizarry concluded that despite its knowledge of the OFAC designation, NatWest’s compliance with U.K. banking laws and regulations in maintaining the Interpal account demonstrated that it did not act with the knowledge or intention of supporting terrorism, a requirement under the ATA.
The plaintiffs appealed Judge Irizarry’s ruling to the Second Circuit, and on September 22, 2014, the appeals court vacated the ruling and remanded the case back to the District Court with instructions to consider the defendant banks’ other arguments in support of summary judgment.
Strauss v. Credit Lyonnais and Wolf v. Credit Lyonnais
The same American plaintiffs suing Arab Bank in Linde filed suits against Credit Lyonnais in 2006 and 2007 alleging that it provided financial services, including bank accounts, to an alleged Hamas “front” charity (France-based CBSP) while it was designated by OFAC as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” On November 13, 2012, Credit Lyonnais, like NatWest, also submitted a letter to the District Court, arguing that Judge Weinstein’s decision to grant Arab Bank’s motion for summary judgment in Gill v. Arab Bank, PLC supports Credit Lyonnais’ motion to dismiss the claims of the Strauss plaintiffs. On February 28, 2013, Judge Irizarry denied, in substantial part, Credit Lyonnais’ motion for summary judgment after concluding that there was a disputed issue of fact with regard to whether the bank knew that CBSP supported Hamas during the time that its account remained open and active. Credit Lyonnais has filed a renewed motion for summary judgment, arguing that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over it in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman. That motion remains pending.
Click here to read the full letter.
Rothstein v. UBS AG
American plaintiffs claiming injuries resulting from Hezbollah and Hamas attacks in Israel or surrounding areas filed ATA claims against Switzerland’s UBS in 2008, alleging that its provision of currency conversion services to Iran, a designated state sponsor of terrorism, was a proximate cause of their injuries. The District Court dismissed these claims after finding an absence of any allegations directly linking the plaintiffs’ injuries to the financial services provided by UBS. On February 14, 2013, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.
- Plaintiffs do “not allege that if UBS had not transferred U.S. currency to Iran, Iran . . . would not have funded the attacks in which plaintiffs were injured.”
O’Neill v. Al Rajhi Bank
American plaintiffs claiming injuries resulting from the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks filed ATA claims against a number of foreign banks beginning in 2003, alleging that they held accounts for individuals or charities that were “fronts” or proxies for Al Qaeda. The District Court dismissed these claims after finding an absence of any allegations directly linking the plaintiffs’ injuries to the financial services provided by the foreign banks. On April 16, 2013, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, and the Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari on June 30, 2014.
- Plaintiffs failed to allege “that the money allegedly donated by the Rule 12(b)(6) defendants to the purported charities actually was transferred to Al Qaeda and aided in the September 11, 2001 attacks.”
Wultz v. Bank of China
American plaintiffs claiming injuries resulting from Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) attacks filed ATA lawsuits against the Bank of China in federal court in 2011 and 2012, alleging that it provided financial services to customers in China who it knew to be actively engaged in laundering money for Hamas and the PIJ. According to the plaintiffs’ complaints, the Government of Israel specifically sought to have these Bank of China accounts shutdown because of their alleged role in terror financing, but the Bank of China refused to comply. These cases remain in the discovery phase following the denial, in substantial part, of the Bank of China’s motion to dismiss.