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European Banks Sued for Indirect Funding of Terror Attacks

Zacks Equity Research

Legal issues over business conducts continue unabated for global banks. Around 200 U.S. military veterans and their families have filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court accusing five European banks of indirectly funding terror attacks. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The five banks are HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC), Barclays PLC (BCS), Standard Chartered PLC, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS) and Credit Suisse Group AG (CS). Alongside, the UK-based subsidiary of an Iranian financial institution, Bank Saderat Iran, is also named as a defendant.

The lawsuit has been filed under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows victims to sue alleged financers of terrorist operations by filing private cases. The litigation accuses the banks of processing Iranian banks’ money through the U.S. financial system.

This money was then, allegedly, used to fund and execute several terrorist attacks in Iraq, killing and wounding hundreds of U.S. military personals and civilians. The lawsuit further stated that the militant groups included a Shi'ite militia in Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah, and Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Moreover, the banks have acknowledged the transfer of money on behalf of Iran, which was been under U.S. sanctions. The lawsuit seeks specific amount in damages and a jury trial.

It is believed that this lawsuit comes as a result of the U.S. regulators’ efforts to nail the banks for violating money-laundering sanctions for Iran, Sudan, Libya and Cuba. Several banks, including BNP Paribas SA (BNPQY), and the U.S. subsidiaries of HSBC, ING Groep NV (ING) and Barclays, have settled the charges besides admitting to the misdeeds.

Whatever be the outcome of the above-mentioned lawsuit, the reputation of the banks is surely going to suffer. These global banks, already facing several probes and litigations for their legacy business operations, are compelled to provide provision for such cases. As a result, they badly hurt their financials.

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