A hundred victims of acts of terror committed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad filed a claim against China's largest bank, the Bank of China, demanding $500 million in damages. The plaintiffs are claiming that the bank provided services to the two Gazan groups, in violation of international banking laws.
The suit was filed in Los Angeles by Attorney Nitzana Derschen-Leitner of 'Shurat HaDin' law center, in cooperation with Frederick C. Sayer, an American attorney. The claim charges the bank with transferring millions of dollars to Hamas and Islamic Jihad from their offices in Iran and Syria, using the bank's branches in New York and Los Angeles, over the past five years.
The suit also claims that most of the money was transferred to an account under the name Said Al-Shourfa, a senior Hamas operative. The large increments were withdrawn on the days in which they were transferred.
The plaintiffs, each of which has lost a family member or been injured in terror attacks committed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, claim that the money transfers facilitated the groups in funding, planning, and carrying out attacks against civilians. They are suing the bank for violating its legal obligation to follow up on covert money transfers and to refuse to carry them out.
In April of 2005 Israeli officials from the Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB) met with officials from China's Ministry of Public Security regarding the money transfers. The plaintiffs claim that despite Israel's appeal to China to prevent further transfers, the Bank of China continued to allow them, with the approval of the Chinese government.
According to Derschen-Leitner, "China is trying to adopt the image of a cultural country but at the same time is allowing its banks to support terror organizations and to assist them in committing bloody attacks against innocent people.
"Banks realize they must not violate international law and carry out illegal transfers only when they find themselves threatened by giant law suits. We hope that when the Bank of China receives the statement of the claim it will immediately halt its assistance in funding Hamas and Islamic Jihad."