Eighty five American, Israeli and Canadian victims of Hizbullah rocket attacks have filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Central Bank of Iran (“CBI”), Bank Saderat Iran of Teheran and Bank Saderat, PLC of London. The suit, Kaplan v. Central Bank of Iran, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. and seeks $1 billion in compensatory damages and an unspecified sum of punitive damages.
The plaintiffs, whose family members were killed or who were themselves injured by rockets fired at Israel by Hizbullah between July 12 and August 14, 2006, allege that the banks, which are controlled by the Iranian government, provided Hizbullah with over $50 million in financial support in the years prior to the attacks with the specific intent of facilitating Hizbullah terrorist attacks against American and Israeli targets. The plaintiffs assert that Hizbullah used the funds transferred by the Iranian banks to prepare for and carry out the rocket barrage which it rained on Israeli cities.
The plaintiffs rest their claims in part on an explicit October 25, 2007 finding by the U.S. Treasury that between 2001 and 2006 Bank Saderat transferred funds from the CBI via Bank Saderat, PLC in London to Hizbullah to support acts of terrorism. This is the first lawsuit brought by terror victims against the Iranian banking system.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Robert J. Tolchin Esq. of New York, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. of Israel.
Attorney Darshan-Leitner stated that: “CBI and Bank Saderat are major financial conduits between Iran and Hizbullah. Without the funds transferred by these banks, Hizbullah would have been unable to maintain its infrastructure, train its terrorist members or carry out the rocket attacks. These banks, which operate freely in Europe, intentionally aided and abetted Hizbullah terrorism and are responsible for the injuries suffered by the victims of these attacks. This is the first lawsuit to target the Iranian banks and prove they provide massive financing to Hizbullah.”
Attorney Robert Tolchin: “In light of the explicit findings by the U.S. Treasury, we expect that proving liability in this case will present no difficulties.”
A copy of the complaint is available here: http://www.israellawcenter.org/images/pdf2/Kaplan%20vs.%20Central%20Bank%20of%20Iran.pdf
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)