Osen LLC (together with co-counsel) represents more than 30 families who were victims of terrorist attacks committed by the Palestinian terrorist organization known as Hamas. The Complaint in Strauss v. Crédit Lyonnais, S.A. alleges that Crédit Lyonnais, a multinational French bank, and a prominent subsidiary of France’s largest financial institution, Crédit Agricole, provided banking services and maintained accounts for CBSP, a French entity designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States Government in August 2003.
The United States Treasury Department issued a statement in connection with its August 2003 designation of CBSP in which it proclaimed:
CBSP and ASP are primary fundraisers for HAMAS in France and Switzerland, respectively. Founded in France in the late 80s/early 90s, CBSP acts in collaboration with more than a dozen humanitarian organizations based in different towns in the West Bank and Gaza and in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. ASP, a subsidiary of CBSP, was founded in Switzerland in 1994. The group has collected large amounts of money from mosques and Islamic centers, which it then transfers to sub-organizations of HAMAS. Khalid Al-Shuli is the president of CBSP and ASP.
The Strauss lawsuit alleges that as a result of CBSP’s financial support to Hamas institutions, the State of Israel outlawed CBSP in 1997, and designated it a terrorist organization in 1998.
As detailed in the Strauss Fourth Amended Complaint, from 1990 until 2003, Crédit Lyonnais maintained accounts for CBSP and transferred funds at CBSP’s behest to Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Strauss Plaintiffs further allege that as far back as 2000, Crédit Lyonnais knew that its customer CBSP was transferring money to Hamas-controlled entities.
On October 5, 2006, in largely denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the Complaint, United States District Judge Charles P. Sifton of the Eastern District of New York noted:
[D]efendant has pointed to no case law, nor can this Court find any, which holds that an American Court must decline to apply the laws of this country to a defendant over which the court has jurisdiction because the laws of the defendant's own country are more lenient.
Plaintiffs believe that no person or corporation who chooses to conduct business in the United States should be allowed to knowingly provide material support to Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
On February 28, 2013, United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry of the Eastern District of New York largely denied Crédit Lyonnais’ motion for summary judgment noting:
Defendant also asserts that it could not have known that CBSP was funding a terrorist organization because neither France nor the European Union have ever sanctioned CBSP or charged it with supporting terrorists, and French authorities cleared CBSP of any crimes after Defendant filed its two declarations with TRACFIN. (See Def.’s Mem. 4-5.) However, just because the French government and the European Union have decided that they have insufficient evidence to sanction CBSP under their own governing law, does not mean that CBSP was not supporting a terrorist organization for purposes of the ATA. While a reasonable jury could conclude that France and the European Union essentially are correct, and that there is not sufficient evidence that CBSP was sending money to terrorists, it would be perfectly reasonable for a jury to disagree and side with the United States government’s assessments. Thus, when viewing the record in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendant knowingly provided material support to a terrorist organization. (Emphasis added.)
No trial date has yet been set for the Strauss case.