BEIRUT: Hundreds of US citizens have filed a lawsuit in New York, accusing 11 Lebanese banks of aiding Hezbollah and knowingly providing financial services to the group despite its terrorist designation by the US government, sources told Annahar.
The plaintiffs claimed the banks facilitated Hezbollah’s access to the US financial system, helping the party evade US sanctions, launder money and finance terrorist acts, which caused damages to the plaintiffs or their relatives.
A source familiar with the legal proceedings in New York said the plaintiffs sought compensation for terrorist acts that caused them or their relatives harm, as a result of Hezbollah’s actions in Iraq in cooperation with Iran’s revolutionary guards between 2004 and 2011 and during the party’s 2006 war with Israel.
The banks being sued are Blom Bank, Bank Audi, SGBL, Jammal Trust Bank, Fransabank, Byblos Bank, Bank of Beirut, Lebanon and Gulf Bank, Banque Libano Francais, MEAB Bank of Lebanon and BBAC.
The Association of Lebanese Banks is expected to take on the case and represent the financial institutions in question. The source, who spoke to Annahar on condition of anonymity, also denied that the case is politically motivated.
Another senior Lebanese banker downplayed the ramifications of the case, noting that the lawsuit had no political implications.
The case is being pursued by “ambulance chasers,” the source said, adding that the main motive behind the lawsuit is financial compensation.
Asked about the case, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh told a local TV station Thursday that a law firm is seeking compensation for the losses that Israel suffered during its wars with Lebanon.
It wasn't clear whether Salameh was referring to the same case or a separate lawsuit.
Salameh added that a number of Israeli citizens were among the plaintiffs, who are seeking payments from Lebanese banks to compensate Israel for its losses.
The U.S designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 1997 while the European Union added its military wing to the terrorism list in 2013. The Iranian-backed militant group has been on the receiving end of a number of U.S sanctions seeking to curtail its fundraising activities and limit the group's global financial network.
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