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.
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.”