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Shurat HaDin, an Israeli non-governmental organisation which uses litigation against groups it accuses of supporting terrorism, has filed a billion dollar lawsuit in New York against the Bank of China (BOC).
The group accuses BOC in a press release of “intentionally providing banking services to Hamas through their New York City branch”. The plaintiffs seek punitive and compensatory damages from the Chinese banking giant on the grounds that, in providing financial services to Hamas, the bank enabled a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2008. A similar lawsuit was filed in 2008 in Los Angeles, presumably unsuccessfully.
The dollar transfers were initiated by Hamas leadership in Iran and Syria, the lawsuit says, processed through the Bank of China’s U.S. branches and sent on to a Bank of China account in China that was linked to a senior officer and agent of Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. Then the funds were transferred to Hamas and other groups in the Gaza strip and West Bank and used to carry out terrorist attacks, the suit says.
In 2008, Shurat HaDin sued American Express Bank and Lebanese-Canadian Bank for $650 million over similar accusations of supporting terrorist groups, in this case Hezbollah. The group has also previously attempted to sue the Syrian government and an Australian NGO.
While Shurat HaDin claims to have won “over $1 Billion in judgments against terror organizations and state sponsors”, evidence of this was not readily available online except on the group’s own webpages. However, there is precedent in New York State for rulings against banks which do business with organisations sanctioned by the US. In August this year Standard Chartered agreed to pay a settlement of $340m over allegations that it had broken US money-laundering laws in handling transactions for Iranian customers.
According to Forbes, Bank of China has cash holdings of over $400 billion.
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