A group of former US soldiers has accused global banks including HSBC and Barclays of helping to finance terrorists who attacked Americans serving in Iraq.
Lenders including Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) conspired with Iran and its banks to withhold certain data from transactions, enabling them to circumvent monitoring by US regulators, the soldiers said in a complaint yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
The complaint alleges that a conspiracy, dating back to 1987, provided Iran with a means to transfer at least $150m (€121m) to Hezbollah and other militant groups, allowing them to carry out dozens of roadside bombings and other attacks against the US military.
"This is a lawsuit that could materially alter the US banking landscape," Sandy Chen, an analyst at Cenkos Securities in London, said in a note to clients. "If these allegations are shown to be true, an avalanche of anti-terrorism legislation would tumble upon these non-US banks" including a "possible suspension of US banking licences", he added.
Each bank "understood that its conduct was part of a larger scheme engineered by Iran. Each defendant also knew, or was deliberately indifferent to the conspiracy's purposes and criminal objectives," according to the complaint.
Soldiers wounded in attacks and families of those who were killed are seeking unspecified damages. Representatives of Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered declined to comment on the lawsuit. (Bloomberg)