The families of Israeli high school students murdered in a 2008 terror attack, filed a billion dollar lawsuit today against the Bank of China in a New York court.
The lawsuit claims the bank provided Hamas, who was responsible for the terror attack, banking services at their New York branch.
A press release on the website of Shurat Hadin, the Israeli law center representing the plaintiffs, states that the lawsuit “is on behalf of five families who lost loved ones in the shooting attack. The suit, Rot v. Bank of China, seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the victims.”
The plaintiffs allege that starting in 2003, the national Chinese bank executed dozens of wire transfers for Hamas totaling several million dollars. The transfers were initiated by the Hamas leadership in Iran and Syria, processed through BOC branches in the United States and sent on to a BOC account in China operated by a senior terror operative. The funds were then transferred to Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In April 2005, Israeli counter-terrorism officers met with officials from China’s Central Bank. The Israelis demanded that the Chinese officials take action to prevent the BOC from further wire transfers. The Chinese officials ignored the request.
In a conversation with The Algemeiner Ms. Darshan-Leitner, the attorney for the victims’ families said the next step would be to await a response from China. “We are waiting to see whether they take responsibility and pay the compensation to the victims’ families.” She continued “A trial would be very damning because the evidence we have showing that millions of dollars were sent through a bank account and they knew where it was coming from and where it was going is very damning. They could lose their license to operate in New York because no bank convicted of terror financing will be allowed to do business in New York anymore.”
As for whether or not the case may deter future financial institutions from committing the same errors as The Bank of China, Ms. Darshan-Leitner says the evidence is pretty clear: “We know several banks are taking steps to make sure their money is terror-free because they don’t want to be liable, they don’t want to face civil lawsuits for hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The attack took place on March 6, 2008 at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and left 8 students dead.
The Shurat Hadin Law Center has a history of representing terror victims in court. They claim to have succeeded in winning more than $1 billion in judgement, and successfully collecting $120 million of that for their clients.
Bank of China representatives in New York could not immediately be reached for comment by The Algemeiner.