EAST ST. LOUIS – Deutsche Bank of Germany, defending a claim that it provided Iran with material support for attacks on U.S. troops, argues that the theory behind the claim would implicate the United States itself.
“Plaintiffs’ attempt to hold Deutsche Bank liable under the facts alleged here illustrates just how sweeping their ‘material support to Iran’ theory is,” wrote Troy Bozarth of Hepler Broom in Edwardsville.
“Indeed, by plaintiffs’ logic, recent actions the U.S. government has taken to implement the nuclear deal with Iran have foreseeably increased Iran’s ability to fund terrorists, and thereby have made the United States itself a ‘material supporter’ of terrorism,” he wrote.
Bozarth acts as local counsel for Deutsche Bank, in association with Covington and Burling of Washington, D.C.
New Jersey lawyer Gary Osen sued the bank in U.S. district court in May, on behalf of Rhonda Kemper of Randolph County and Charles Shaffer of St. Clair County.
An explosion killed Kemper’s son, David Schaefer, in Iraq.
An explosion in Iraq cost Shaffer a leg.
Osen wrote that plaintiffs sought to hold the bank accountable for helping Iran finance, orchestrate and support attacks on U.S. peacekeepers.
He wrote that Deutsche Bank conspired with Iranian banks to transfer billions through the U.S. while avoiding detection by regulators.
The bank is accused of removing from payment messages any information that identified entities subject to sanctions.
Osen wrote that injuries from terror attacks were precisely the risks contemplated by executive orders, statutes, and regulations restricting Iran’s access to U.S. dollars.
He wrote that in November, the bank agreed to pay $258 million for violating New York state law in transactions on behalf of countries subject to sanctions.
Bozarth’s brief conceded that the bank entered into settlements with New York State regulators and the Federal Reserve System.
“Deutsche Bank has accepted responsibility for the lack of transparency of its activities involving certain sanctioned countries, but regulators made clear that actual sanctions violations resulting from this conduct were limited,” he wrote.
Bozarth disputed that such conduct constituted material support for terrorists.
He wrote that plaintiffs did not connect the bank to Hezbollah or the division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that allegedly paid and trained terrorists.
Plaintiffs seek to hold the bank responsible not because it supported a terrorist organization, “but because it allegedly performed services for a state that separately supports terrorists,” he wrote.
He wrote that although they allege that Iran manufactured the devices in the explosions at issue and provided them to terrorists, they didn’t specify who placed or detonated the devices.
Further, they didn’t allege that the bank transacted any business with Hezbollah or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Bozarth wrote that Iran could rely on its billions in reserve to finance terror, with or without additional hundreds of millions from a Western bank.
He wrote that the only transactions the bank allegedly participated in involved Iranian financial institutions.
“And like the government of Iran itself, it is clear that the relevant Iranian banks had ‘legitimate’ operations,” he wrote.
“Material support to a foreign state, even one that is recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism, does not proximately cause every injury inflicted by every terrorist organization associated with that state.”