25 August 2019
US soldiers conduct a checkpoint in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, in October 2004. Photo: AFP
US soldiers conduct a checkpoint in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, in October 2004. Photo: AFP

US soldiers sue HSBC, StanChart over attacks in Iraq

A group of US soldiers filed a lawsuit against HSBC Holdings, Standard Chartered and four other banks, accusing them of helping Iran process billions of dollars in transfers and finance terrorists who attacked Americans serving in Iraq, Bloomberg News reported.

The lenders, including Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Credit Suisse, conspired with Iran and its banks to withhold certain data from transactions, enabling them to circumvent monitoring by US regulators, the soldiers said in a complaint field with the federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

The conspiracy, dating back to 1987, provided Iran with a means to transfer at least US$150 million to Hezbollah and other terrorist and militant groups, allowing them to carry out dozens of roadside bombings and other attacks against the US military, the complaint said.

Each bank “understood that its conduct was part of a larger scheme engineered by Iran”, according to the complaint. “Each defendant also knew, or was deliberately indifferent to the conspiracy’s purposes and criminal objectives.”

Soldiers wounded in attacks and families of those who were killed are seeking unspecified damages, the report said.

Standard Chartered agreed in August 2012 to pay US$340 million to the New York Department of Financial Services for its role in hiding or disguising the identity of Iranian clients in billions of dollars worth of wire transfers. In December of that year, the bank agreed to pay US$327 million to resolve similar issues with the US Justice Department, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Manhattan District Attorney.

New York and US officials have re-opened their investigations to determine whether Standard Chartered withheld evidence of Iran sanctions violations, the news agency said, citing sources.

The soldiers’ lawsuit follows a verdict in September in a separate terrorism financing case against Jordan’s largest lender, Arab Bank Plc. Jurors found the lender was liable for deaths and injuries of US citizens in about two dozen attacks carried out by Hamas in and near Israel.

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