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Lebanon: Banks Studying Defense Options to Face US Civil Lawsuit

Lebanon: Banks Studying Defense Options to Face US Civil Lawsuit

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 10:15
A general view shows a street hosting banks and financial institutions, known as Banks Street, in Beirut Central District, Lebanon September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/File Photo

Movements are underway to find the means to face two civil lawsuits filed in New York against more than 10 Lebanese banks, for allegedly facilitating work for Hezbollah and partly causing damage to families who lost US soldiers or were injured during the military operations in Iraq between 2004 and 2011.

The civil action was brought on January 1, 2019, under “…the Anti-Terrorism Act by American nationals who were injured, and by the estates and families of American nationals who were killed or injured, by reason of acts of international terrorism in Iraq between 2004 and 2011 that were committed, planned or authorized by the United States designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (Hezbollah) in coordination with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps…”

The US court has not yet set a date for the trial. But William Friedman, a lawyer at Osen LCC (representing 400 US families), said in an interview with Al-Hurra television that the firm was determined to follow the case up to the end with the maximum potential, and pointed out that it was the first case of its kind to be filed under the US anti-terrorism law.

Complete secrecy surrounds consultations and contacts taking place between the 11 concerned banks, the Lebanese Association of Banks and Banque du Liban. In addition, communication is underway between internal lawyers, law firms and legal consultants in order to develop the best mechanisms that can be adopted to face the lawsuits.

The Association of Banks (ABL), in a statement, said that a similar lawsuit filed in 2007 against five Lebanese banks was dismissed by a New York court. “We are firmly convinced that these lawsuits are lacking factually and in seriousness,” read the ABL statement. “These two lawsuits have no legal basis,” it said.

The Association President, Dr. Joseph Tarabay, said that the concerned banks concerned were preparing to deal with this issue and that they were working to appoint law offices in New York.

The defendants in the lawsuit include the following banks: Bank Audi, Bank of Beirut, Bank of Beirut And The Arab Countries (BBAC), Banque Libano-Française (BLF), BLOM Bank, Byblos Bank, Fransabank, Jammal Trust Bank, Lebanon And Gulf Bank (LGB), Middle East Africa Bank (MEAB), and SGBL.

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