Arab Bank set­tles US lit­i­ga­tion over at­tacks by mil­i­tants

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Arab Bank Plc has agreed to set­tle lit­i­ga­tion brought by hun­dreds of Amer­i­cans who ac­cused it of fa­cil­i­tat­ing mil­i­tant at­tacks in Is­rael, nearly a year af­ter a US jury found the bank li­able.

The set­tle­ment was con­firmed on Fri­day by Michael El­sner, a lawyer for the plain­tiffs, and a spokesman for Arab Bank. The terms were not dis­closed. El­sner said the frame­work of the deal would be fi­nal­ized over the next few months. A trial had been sched­uled to start Mon­day to be­gin de­ter­min­ing how much the bank would have to pay the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. Ap­prox­i­mately 500 U.S. cit­i­zens had sued Arab Bank un­der the U.S Anti-Ter­ror­ism Act, which per­mits U.S. cit­i­zens to pur­sue claims aris­ing from in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism. The plain­tiffs in­cluded both vic- tims of at­tacks car­ried out by Ha­mas and other groups, as well as fam­ily mem­bers of the vic­tims.

In Septem­ber 2014, a U.S. jury in Brook­lyn, New York, found the Jor­dan-based bank li­able for two dozen Ha­mas at­tacks that took place more than a decade ago in and around Is­rael, the first time a bank was held li­able in U.S. court for vi­o­lat­ing the act.

Sev­eral other banks are fac­ing sim­i­lar claims in U.S. courts un­der the Anti-Ter­ror­ism Act, in­clud­ing Bank of China, Credit Ly­on­nais SA, HSBC Hold­ings Plc and Royal Bank of Scot­land Group Plc, among oth­ers. Last year's ver­dict cov­ered 310 plain­tiffs, but a source fa­mil­iar with the lit­i­ga­tion said the set­tle­ment would in­clude all 500 plain­tiffs who brought claims un­der the Anti-Ter­ror­ism Act.

At trial, lawyers for the plain­tiffs said Arab Bank know­ingly main­tained ac­counts for Ha­mas op­er­a­tives and fa­cil­i­tated pay­ments to fam­i­lies of sui­cide bombers and those im­pris­oned or in­jured dur­ing a Pales­tinian upris­ing be­gin­ning in 2000. Arab Bank ar­gued that it had fol­lowed proper screen­ing pro­ce­dures to checked ac­counts and trans­ac­tions against lists of des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The bank had vowed to ap­peal, say­ing U.S. Dis­trict Judge Brian Co­gan is­sued flawed rul­ings that pre­vented it from mount­ing a full de­fense. Arab Bank said af­ter last year's trial that the ver­dict could ex­pose fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to "enor­mous li­a­bil­ity" for pro­vid­ing rou­tine bank­ing ser­vices. Mon­day's trial, which was to in­clude 17 plain­tiffs, had been akin to so-called bell­wether tri­als that are com­mon in mass tort cases. The trial was ex­pected to al­low both sides to as­sess the dam­ages for a few plain­tiffs in or­der to gauge the po­ten­tial over­all amount of money at stake for the bank.

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