The family members of 20 citizens of Israel who were killed in terrorist attacks won a key victory in New York State Appellate Court as a result of their civil action against the Bank of China on Tuesday in New York City, according to the plaintiffs' legal team.
The Appellate Court affirmed that the lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorists' rocket attacks and suicide bombings may go forward against the BOC in the United States justice system.
The New York State Appellate Division also held that the eventual trial court should adhere to Israeli law in hearing the case. While the BOC argued that Chinese law should be applied since the defendant's headquarters are located in the Chinese capital of Beijing, the Court was not convinced.
According to the plaintiff's attorneys -- New York attorney Robert Tolchin and Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner -- this decision implement Israeli law will allow the non-American plaintiffs in the case "to maintain their claims that the Bank of China should be held liable for providing financial services to two terrorist groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)." The decision helps the plaintiffs to establish that the bank violated banking regulations and U.S. criminal statutes by carrying out the money transfers.
Both Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organizations are listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S. Treasury Department and the State Department.
The Court stated: "We find that there is nothing repugnant to New York public policy in holding that Israeli law applies to this action. We also find that the complaint has sufficiently alleged negligence under Israeli law... Although a straightforward reading of the Israeli enactments would lead to the conclusion that they concern conduct that is broader in scope than most of what BOC is alleged to have done, the record contains opinions written by experts in Israeli law; plaintiffs' expert explains that BOC's alleged transmission of funds is sufficient to bring it under the enactment forbidding the 'giving' or 'payment' of funds to terrorist groups."
The lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims, as well as the victims' family members, of terror attacks targeting Israel between 2004 and 2007 alleges that beginning in 2003, the Chinese bank conducted business on behalf of known terrorists such as executing numerous wire transfers for the Hamas and PIJ totaling several million dollars.
These financial transfers emanated from Hamas and PIJ leaders operating in two nations known for supporting and harboring terrorists directing attacks against the Jewish State -- Iran and Syria.
"The transfers of funds were processed through BOC's branches in the United States and were sent on to a BOC account in Beijing administered by a senior operative of the Hamas and PIJ," the U.S. attorney for the Israelis, Robert Tolchin, alleges.
From the bank's Beijing headquarters, the funds were provided through wire transfers to bloodthirsty Hamas leadership and the equally dangerous and deadly PIJ commanders residing in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, according to the Israelis' attorneys.
Millions of dollars in wire transfers to the radical Muslim groups was used to mount numerous terrorist attacks against the Israeli population, the victims' family members claim.
According to the Israelis' complaint, "In April 2005, Israeli counterterrorism officials met with key figures from the People's Republic of China's Public Security Ministry and officials from China's Central Bank regarding these Hamas and PIJ wire transfers.
The Israelis demanded that the Chinese officials take action to prevent BOC from making any further transfers of funds to terrorist groups waging jihad against the Jewish State and its people.
Despite the Israeli warnings, the BOC -- allegedly with Chinese government officials' consent -- ignored the Israeli counterterrorists and continued to wire illegal funds to Hamas and PIJ occupying the Palestinian territories.
The lawsuit was brought against the BOC on behalf of the Israeli victims, alleging that the BOC had knowingly transferred funds for -- and to -- Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The plaintiffs, include the families of Emi Elmaliah, Israel Zamalloa and Michael Saadon, who were murdered on January 27, 2007 in a suicide bombing in a bakery in Eilat. The attack was carried out by a PIJ bomber from Gaza.
The New York State Appellate Court's ruling means that the families and the other victims of Hamas and PIJ terror attacks can now proceed to the discovery and trial stages of the lawsuit within the State of New York.
However, the Bank of China's attorneys are arguing that New York State is not the correct venue for a civil case in which Israeli citizens are suing a Chinese bank, especially since most of the alleged misconduct took place in the People's Republic of China.
The bank also argues that under the laws of New York or China, it is not liable to the alleged victims of its customers' wrongful actions. It argued that if Israeli law conflicts, the appeals court must apply New York or Chinese law.
Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for ConservativeBase.com, and he's a columnist for Examiner.com. In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com) and editor of Conservative Base Magazine (www.conservativebase.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.
He holds a bachelor of science in Criminal Justice from Southwest University and SCI Technical School in New York City and completed training at the NYC Police Academy, FBI Continuing Education Program, and the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) of the American Society for Industrial Security.
Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.
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