Assisting Victims in
As of the publication of this article, several large banks have admitted to funding Iran with billions of dollars during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, in direct violation of United States and international laws. Iran used this funding to pay rewards to terrorists who carried out attacks against U.S. and coalition forces. By providing funding, these banks helped to facilitate the attacks that were responsible for the majority of U.S. military and civilian contractor injuries and deaths throughout the war.
Impact Law is helping injured victims and their families pursue justice against these banks under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which serves to hold organizations responsible for criminal or conspiratorial acts. The U.S. and international community have previously imposed sanctions against Iran that prevented the country from accessing the U.S. financial system.
The banks that have been implicated in anti-terrorism lawsuits knowingly violated these sanctions and, in some cases, even altered documents in an attempt to conceal their illegal activities. If you or a loved one suffered an injury while serving your country as a member of the military or a civilian contractor unit, you may be entitled to pursue damages from the banks that helped finance terrorist organizations.
The Anti-Terrorism Act
In October 2001, the U.S. Congress passed the USA Act and the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act, which were later combined into the USA PATRIOT Act. These pieces of legislation sought to legally redefine what constitutes an act of terrorism and increase the ability of the Federal Government to control and monitor financial transactions involved with terrorist organizations.
Prior to this legislation, the definition of terrorism had been limited to acts that were "backed by a foreign power," which was commonly accepted as requiring the involvement of a foreign government. Specifically, the USA Act broadened the definition of terrorism to include actions that are intended to intimidate the government or civil population, break criminal laws, and endanger human life, with or without the involvement of a foreign government.
Impact Law is helping injured victims and their families pursue justice under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which serves to hold organizations responsible for criminal or conspiratorial acts.
The Financial Anti-Terrorism Act was aimed at preventing money laundering and established Federal jurisdiction over foreign bank accounts that are denominated in U.S. dollars. This legislation also instituted procedural guidelines for record keeping and reporting of certain financial transactions, in an effort to "prevent persons within the United States, or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, from providing material support or resources to foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activities."
Additionally, the USA PATRIOT Act established an avenue of recourse for victims of terrorism. By establishing that the U.S. Federal Government has jurisdiction over foreign accounts that are denominated in U.S. currency and requiring financial institutions to keep detailed records concerning certain financial transactions, banks who provide funding that supports terrorism may be held liable for injuries in a civil case.
Foreign Banking Institutions
Several banks have already admitted to criminal violations related to money laundering and transferring billions of U.S. dollars to Iran, a known "State Sponsor of Terror."
BNP Paribas S.A.
According to FBI documents, BNP Paribas agreed to pay $8.9 billion in connection with the illegal processing of financial transactions for countries that have been subjected to U.S. economic sanctions. Investigations have found evidence that the bank moved more than $8.8 billion through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities, including over $4.3 billion in transactions that originated in countries that had been specifically prohibited from the U.S. financial system.
HSBC Holding Group PLC
HSBC is a United Kingdom-based financial institution that has already admitted to anti-money laundering and sanctions violations by illegally conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Iran, Libya, Cuba, Sudan, and Burma. These countries were all subject to sanctions at the time of the transactions, and HSBC knowingly violated multiple laws, including the Bank Secrecy Act, which is part of the USA PATRIOT Act. Investigations into the company have revealed that employees deliberately removed identifying information from payment messages in an attempt to prevent the bank's filters from blocking prohibited payments. The bank has agreed to forfeit $1.26 billion and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
Credit Suisse AG
Credit Suisse AG has agreed to turn over $536 million related to violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Between 1995 and 2006, the bank altered wire transfers that involved individuals or countries that were under U.S. sanctions. Specifically, Credit Suisse removed identifying information, such as customer names, bank names, and physical addresses, so that these wire transfers could pass through U.S. financial system filters without being detected.
In addition to concealing information, Credit Suisse also promised its Iranian clientele that no message would leave the bank without being evaluated by a Credit Suisse employee. If the payment message contained any identifying information or had been formatted in a way that would alert U.S. filters of its origin, an employee would remove the detectable information.
Commerzbank AG has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct in violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Bank Secrecy Act. As part of this agreement, Commerzbank AG will forfeit $563 million, pay a fine of $79 million, and when combined with payments the bank is making to regulators, will pay out a total of $1.45 billion related to this illegal activity. Court documents show that the bank concealed hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions that were prohibited by U.S. sanctions laws for clients in Iran and Sudan. Additionally, internal memos from Commerzbank show employees directing others not to mention a connection to Iranian financial institutions.
Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered PLC has entered into an agreement to pay $340 million to a bank regulator over disputed transactions that are linked to Iran. New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky has called Standard Chartered a "rogue institution" and claimed that the bank hid Iran-linked transactions from regulators with a total value of over $250 billion. However, Chief Executive for the bank has denied the allegations and stated that the illegal transactions totaled less than $14 million.
Barclays Bank PLC
Barclays has agreed to pay $298 million to the United States and the New York County District Attorney's Office for violations stemming from transactions on behalf of customers in Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and other countries that were under U.S. sanctions. Criminal investigations uncovered evidence that bank employees had stripped information out of payment messages that would have alerted U.S. financial institutions to the origins of the funds in question.
Hold Funders of Terrorism Responsible
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of a terrorist act in Iraq or Afghanistan, it is imperative that you contact an attorney who will aggressively pursue justice on your behalf. Financial institutions are not above the law, and these banks need to be held responsible for their crimes. Please contact our offices today to arrange a complimentary case evaluation.