Osen LLC in the News

“Judge Allows Terror Suits Against Banks to Proceed”
New York Law Journal - April 4, 2016

A federal judge has allowed terrorism victims to proceed with their civil actions against two banks.

On Thursday, Eastern District Judge Dora Irizarry rejected the dismissal motions filed by Crédit Lyonnais and National Westminster Bank in their respective cases.

Plaintiffs said the banks maintained accounts for charities the Department of Treasury in 2005 called "Specially Designated Global Terrorists."

Crédit Lyonnais, headquartered in France, and National Westminster Bank, headquartered in the United Kingdom, have raised defenses including a lack of personal jurisdiction in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2014 ruling, Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746.

In Strauss vs Crédit Lyonnais, 06-cv-702, and Weiss v. National Westminster Bank, 05-cv-4622, Irizarry said she had jurisdiction over the banks through New York's long-arm statute, CPLR §302(a)(1), as well as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(1)(C).

Both banks alternately moved for summary judgment, saying plaintiffs failed to show that as of the date of the last transfer, both several years before 2005, the banks acted with the requisite knowledge and proximately caused the injuries. Irizarry rejected the bids.

According to Gary Osen of Osen LLC, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys in the two cases, all plaintiffs were also in a lawsuit against Arab Bank, though the plaintiff set was larger in that case.

Osen was a member of the Arab Bank plaintiff legal team. On the eve of a 2015 damages trial, Arab Bank and the plaintiffs said they were settling.

Lawrence Friedman and Jonathan Blackman, partners at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, represented Crédit Lyonnais and National Westminster Bank.

“Lawsuit Against HSBC By Victims of Cartel Killings Could Fit Provisions Under Powerful US Anti-Terror Law”
Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists - February 18, 2016

A lawsuit by families of U.S. citizens murdered by Mexican drug cartels brought against global bank HSBC under provisions of a powerful anti-terror law could have legs, even though the gangs themselves are not currently designated as terrorist groups, say legal experts.

The civil action, released earlier this month, argues that HSBC Holdings Plc should be held responsible under the US Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for a series of deaths at the hands of brutal Mexican drug gangs because the institution admitted to laundering more than $880 million on behalf of the cartels as part of a $1.9 billion settlement in 2012 tied to broad anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions failings. To read a copy of the plaintiff’s complaint, please click here.

“Should social media sites be held liable for the posts of extremists?”
Irish Examiner - January 18, 2016

Islamic State and other terror organisations have been using Twitter as a communications tool for many years. Alison Frankel looks at a US case which may have repercussions for social media. If the widow of a US government contractor killed in a 2015 Islamic State shooting in Amman, Jordan, wins her newly filed US Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) suit against Twitter, there could be enormous consequences for social media sites. Extremist groups are well known to use the internet to recruit members and plan attacks. Liability to victims of these attacks — and the treble damages available under the ATA — could mean significant exposure and reputational harm for sites frequented by extremists.

“Arab Bank Settles With Bombing Victims”
Courthouse News Service - August 14, 2015

(CN) - Days before jury selection, the Jordan-based Arab Bank averted a trial to determine how much it owed in damages after previously being found to have bankrolling terrorism, a lawyer confirmed.
Families of 300 victims of suicide bombings convinced a jury last year, a decade after the filing of their lawsuit, to make the Amman, Jordan-based bank pay for its role in attacks on Israeli civilians between 2000 and 2004.
Observers called the decision the first time a financial institution had been found liable in the United States for providing material support to a terrorist organization under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

“EXCLUSIVE: Lawyers for bank that transferred money to families of Hamas militants aim to prevent graphic vehicle display in courtroom”
NY Daily News - August 11, 2015

Lawyers for a bank that transferred cash to the families of Hamas militants are trying to slam the brakes on a graphic display that could find its way into a Brooklyn courtroom — a Volkswagen occupied by four crash dummies representing the victims of a terror attack.


“Does Fear of Terror-Finance Cases Drive Big Banks From Risky Regions?”
Bloomberg Business - June 9, 2015

Big banks believe that lawsuits alleging that they are financing terrorism cause "de-risking," and the banks are warning that this is a bad development. What are they talking about?  

De-risking is jargon for pulling out of places—perhaps the Palestinian territories or Somalia—where doing business has led to regulatory penalties and/or lawsuits. As government agencies and plaintiffs' attorneys have increasingly accused international banks of engaging in money laundering and financing terrorists, some banks have cut ties to clients in the Middle East and Africa.

Banks describe de-risking as a way to limit exposure to U.S. government fines and court liability. The banks further claim that the trend has resulted in a scarcity of banking services for poor people who depend on remittances from relatives in the West and for nongovernmental organizations devoted to humanitarian causes. Further, the banks assert that cutting off troubled regions from the international financial system will result in more—not less—crime and terrorism.

“Judge Rejects Arab Bank's Attack on Jury Verdict”
New York Law Journal - April 9, 2015

A judge has refused to upset a jury verdict that found Arab Bank civilly liable for the material support of Hamas during the Second Intifada.

"The verdict was based on volumes of damning circumstantial evidence that the defendant knew its customers were terrorists," Eastern District Judge Brian Cogan wrote in a 96-page decision released Wednesday, denying most of the bank's bid for judgment as a matter of law and rebuffing a request for a retrial.

“Are Credit Suisse, RBS, Standard Chartered, HSBC and Barclays terrorist banks?”
Bloomberg Businessweek - February 23, 2015

Steven Vincent had just left a money exchange in the southern Iraqi city of Basra when a group of men in police uniforms drove up in a white truck and grabbed him and his translator. It was Aug. 2, 2005. Vincent, a freelance American journalist, had reported on the war for two-and-a-half years. British troops occupied Basra, but he operated without an embed arrangement. British and Iraqi authorities later found Vincent on the outskirts of the city shot dead. The Iraqi translator survived.

“Switched Off in Basra,” in which he described the infiltration of the local police by Iranian-backed Islamic extremists. “Steven was executed for what he wrote,” says his widow, Lisa Ramaci. She’s set up a foundation in his name that donates money to the families of Iraqis injured or killed because of their work with U.S. journalists. And Ramaci did something else. In November she joined a lawsuit on behalf of relatives of U.S. soldiers and civilians who’ve died in Iraq as a result of violence linked to Iranian-backed militias and terrorist groups.

The suit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., seeks hundreds of millions of dollars not from death squads, whose members aren’t likely to show up with lawyers in tow. Instead, it targets five of the largest banks in the world: HSBC, Credit Suisse, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Royal Bank of Scotland. “Defendants,” the suit declares, “committed acts of international terrorism.” The suit, known as Freeman v. HSBC, takes its name from lead plaintiff Charlotte Freeman, whose husband, Brian, an Army captain, died in a Jan. 20, 2007, attack by Iranian-trained militants in Karbala, Iraq.

“Veterans Accuse Six Banks of Aiding U.S. Foes”
Wall Street Journal - November 11, 2014

Suit Alleges Institutions Helped Iran Move Millions of Dollars to Groups Targeting GIs in Iraq - More than 200 veterans and their families filed a lawsuit Monday accusing six major banks of helping Iran move tens of millions of dollars to groups targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq during the war.

“Suit Accuses Banks of Role in Financing Terror Attacks”
The New York Times - November 11, 2014

A five-car convoy opened fire on a compound 30 miles south of Baghdad, a sneak attack that killed four American soldiers in one of the deadliest days in the Iraq war. A roadside bomb struck a United States military vehicle, severing part of a soldier’s head. And a militant group kidnapped and killed an American journalist, dumping him in the street after firing three shots into his chest.

Those acts of terrorism occurred a world away from Wall Street at the height of the Iraq war. But they now underpin a lawsuit against some of the world’s biggest banks, injecting a human element into the complex and shadowy world of international finance.