Hezbollah victims sue Lebanese banks


American, Canadian and Israeli victims of Hezbollah terrorist attacks are suing two Lebanese banks.

The 85 plaintiffs, whose family members were killed or who were injured by Hezbollah rocket attacks against northern Israel in the summer of 2006, filed the lawsuit July 11 in the New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan against the American Express Bank Ltd. and the Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL.

The lawsuit asks the court to award the victims $650 million in compensatory damages as well as more in punitive damages.

The American Express Bank is headquartered in New York and processes dollar transactions for the Lebanese Canadian Bank, which is headquartered in Beirut and has a branch in Canada.

The plaintiffs allege that the banks transferred millions of dollars to Hezbollah between 2004 and 2006, and that Hezbollah used those funds to prepare for and carry out the rocket attacks on Israel’s North in July and August of 2006.

“Hezbollah is a financial giant which is deeply entrenched in the Lebanese banking system,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an attorney from Israel representing the victims. “Any U.S. bank that serves as correspondent for a Lebanese bank may well be aiding and abetting Hezbollah terrorism, and runs the risk of serious civil liability.

U.S. correspondents for Lebanese banks owe it to themselves and to their shareholders to carefully examine and re-evaluate their relationships with banks in Lebanon.”

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