Iranian Banking Case



Osen LLC represents more than 85 families of Americans who were victims of Iranian-facilitated terrorism in a case captioned Freeman v. HSBC, which was brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”). The lawsuit alleges that major international banks entered into a conspiracy with Iran and Iranian banks that resulted in: (1) the transfer of billions of U.S. dollars through the United States in a manner purposefully designed to circumvent U.S. regulators’ and law enforcement agencies’ ability to detect and monitor the transactions; and (2) the transfer of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (“IRGC-QF”), the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations and entities actively engaged in murdering and maiming U.S. servicemen and civilians in Iraq. The Complaint alleges that as a result of the conspiracy, Iran, (including its IRGC-QF), Hezbollah, Kata’ib Hezbollah (“KH”), and other terrorist entities planned, funded, supported, facilitated and perpetrated hundreds of terrorist attacks in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, killing hundreds of U.S. servicemen and civilians, and grievously wounding many others. 


The Facts


The Complaint alleges that Iran has long used terrorist surrogates to target U.S. forces, diplomats, and facilities in Iraq. From 2003 to 2011, Iranian agents led a network of Iraqi "Special Groups" - KH, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (“AAH”), and the Promised Day Brigades - that engaged in targeted kidnappings, assassinations, and attacks (including improvised explosive device (“IED”) attacks) on U.S. soldiers and civilians that killed hundreds of Americans and wounded many more.


Terror Financing


The Complaint alleges that Iran partially funds its global terrorist operations through the IRGC-QF, which, in turn, directly funds, trains, and supports terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, KH and AAH that have killed and injured hundreds of Americans in Iraq since 2003.


What The Complaint Alleges


The Complaint alleges that Iran used and continues to use the global banking system to purposefully circumvent U.S. and other sanctions regimes to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF. In order to evade detection, Iranian banks enlisted many of the world’s largest financial institutions to help Iran cover up its web of transactions in support of its terrorist activities. The Complaint further alleges that several of the named Defendants in the Freeman lawsuit have entered into Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”) with the U.S. government in which they acknowledged that they knowingly evaded U.S. sanctions laws by, among other things, removing or omitting the names, Bank Identifier Codes and other identifying information of Iranian banks the payment messages sent through U.S. banks – an illegal scheme commonly referred to as “stripping” transactions. 


What The Law Can Do


The Complaint has been brought pursuant to a private civil remedy provision of the ATA, U.S. Code, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(a). This provision, which Congress enacted in 1992 both as a counter-terrorism deterrent and as a means of affording remedies to U.S. nationals victimized by terrorism, permits Americans physically or financially injured by reason of an act of international terrorism and/or their surviving family members, to sue in federal court, enabling them to recover three times their damages.


The Plaintiffs


The Freeman Plaintiffs include individuals who were killed or injured between 2003 and 2011 by: (1) Iraqi terrorist groups trained, funded, and armed by the IRGC-QF; (2) Hezbollah; and/or (3) Iranian-manufactured IEDs. The lawsuit includes claims by members of their immediate families. The Complaint identifies more than 200 plaintiffs from 32 states across the country. The killed and injured include American servicemen ranging from privates to colonels. The Complaint also includes the family of an American journalist, killed as a result of his fearless reporting from Basra, Iraq.


The Defendants


The Defendants include HSBC Bank plc, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, and HSBC Bank USA, N.A. – all part of the HSBC Group, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services companies in the world. Other Defendants include Barclays Bank Plc, a global financial services provider headquartered in London, Standard Chartered Bank, also one of the world’s largest international banks, Royal Bank of Scotland N.V. (the successor of the Dutch banking giant ABN AMRO Bank N.V.), and Credit Suisse, all of which, as detailed in the Complaint, entered into DPAs or consent orders with regulators in which they acknowledged their efforts to evade U.S. sanctions concerning Iran.


The Defendants also include Bank Saderat Plc, a bank incorporated in England and Wales that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank Saderat Iran. In October 2007, Bank Saderat was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (“SDGT”) by the United States. The Treasury Department press release announcing Bank Saderat’s designation stated:

For example, from 2001 to 2006, Bank Saderat transferred $50 million from the Central Bank of Iran through its subsidiary in London to its branch in Beirut for the benefit of Hezbollah fronts in Lebanon that support acts of violence.


For More Information


If you would like to learn more about the lawsuit, please contact Ari Ungar or Naomi Weinberg at Osen LLC.


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