After a jury trial in the United States (U.S.) last month declared Jordan-based Arab Bank liable for Hamas attacks that victimized Americans, the $46.4 billion institution has now legally moved for a more favorable judgment, saying the verdict in U.S. Federal Court was the result of legal and factual errors. The trial was brought by 300 American terror victims seeking relief under the Anti-Terrorism Act’s civil provisions. The bank on Friday asked George W. Bush-appointed Eastern District Judge Brian M. Cogan to order a new trial “to correct this miscarriage of justice.”
In an enormous amount of evidence against the bank, the original trial brought together an vast amount of information about the 24 attacks and thousands of bank transfers processed over a ten-year period.
At the time of the verdict three weeks ago, Arab Bank complained of legal technicalities such as faulty evidence admission and jury instructions. For these and other reasons, the bank characterized the proceedings as a “show trial.” It is believed that the case represents the first time a financial institution has been tried under the Act. Arab Bank has more than 600 physical branches in 30 countries.
Attorneys for the American plaintiffs complained that Arab Bank transferred over $70 million to a Saudi Arabian terror entity, Hamas “front charities” and also 11 other clients that have been globally designated as terrorist groups. In addition, $60,000 was transferred to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who oversaw 425 terror attacks that killed 377 Israelis and wounded over 2,000. For its part, Arab Bank declared that the transfer into terrorist leader’s account was because his name was misspelled.
Arab Bank said that there was nothing in the evidence pointing to any evil intentions on its part or even causal connections. It said that the verdict required correction as it was contrary to the law and the evidence presented. As well, the motion said that some or all of the evidence was “inflammatory” and thus may have swayed the emotions of the jury.
The arguments were labeled a “rehash” by one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, C. Tab Turner of North Little Rock, Ark. He said the Bank’s assertions are not new and were made before and during the trial. “It’s all the same arguments they’ve been making over and over,” he said.
The bank also complained about the allowance – and denial – of certain evidence, like the admission of Israel’s list of prohibited organizations and the exclusion of a specific bank expert. Bank attorneys said decisions made before and during the trial prevented them from introducing foreign law into the proceedings as a way to show the state of mind from which it was coming. While in deliberation, jurors had asked for information about certain rules under Lebanese law and Judge Cogan told them that the laws of other nations were not relevant. Transcripts show Cogan denying the requested Lebanese information, telling them that have been instructed “on the law on the principles that I think you need to know.”
By Gregory Baskin