A leading European bank faces trial in New York later this year after a federal judge found there is sufficient evidence it knew the funds were being used to support a Palestinian terrorist group.Credit Lyonnais is only one of the international banks facing a lawsuit in the US -- the others are the Arab Bank, a leading bank in the Middle East, and NatWest, a major British bank.
U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry denied French banking giant Credit Lyonnais SA's motion for summary judgment last Thursday, saying "there is a genuine issue" about the bank's behavior with the accounts in question.
The case has been brought by 200 plaintiffs killed or wounded in more than a dozen Hamas terrorist acts between 2002 and 2004. Credit Lyonnais allowed a Palestinian organization that claimed to be a charity to launder Hamas money used in attacks in Israel in which the plaintiffs and their relatives were victims.
Thus, if Credit Lyonnais is found liable, there are going to be major repercussions.
The group the bank was involved with is Comite de Bienfaisance et de Secour aux Palestinien (Committee for Palestinian Welfare and Relief or CBSP). The US Treasury designated CBSP as a terrorist group back in 2003.
The importance of the court's decision is that in previous cases, the courts required proof that the banks shared the same goals as the terrorist organizations that used them -- but according to this court, showing that a bank is giving money to a terror organization is enough to prove liability.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israel-based Shurat HaDin, notes that in the current case:
Credit Lyonnais facilitated an account to CBSP; not directly to Hamas, but to a charity that funds Hamas. [The summary judgment] says that CBSP is designated because they fund Hamas, therefore no bank operating in the U.S. is allowed to give financial services to CBSP or to any designated charity or terror organization. It is a kind of a shockwave to the international banking system.Read the whole thing.
The bank was apparently suspicious of CBSP and continued their relationship with the terrorist-affiliated charity because of veiled threats involving bad publicity and accusations of religious discrimination.
Credity Lyonnais may find that bad publicity was the least of their worries.
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