Families of US soldiers killed in Iraq and soldiers wounded there in attacks linked to Iran sued five European banks Monday, alleging their business with Iran helped finance the attacks.
HSBC, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Barclays Bank were sued in the federal district court in Brooklyn, New York, over their already admitted banking business with Iran in violation of US sanctions.
RBS was accused over activities of ABN Amro, the Dutch bank taken over by RBS in 2008.
The plaintiffs, including the families of dozens of US soldiers who died in Iraq, allege that by tapping into the global financial system via those banks, Iran was able to finance "hundreds" of attacks in Iraq via the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and its own Revolutionary Guards between 2003 and 2011.
"Iran used and continues to use the global banking system to purposefully circumvent US and other sanctions regimes to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars," said Osen LLC, the law firm working for the plaintiffs.
"In order to evade detection, Iranian banks enlisted many of the world's largest financial institutions to help Iran cover up its web of transactions in support of its terrorist activities."
The suit is based on a 1992 US law that makes it possible for people injured in terror attacks, or the families of those killed, to sue anyone culpable in the attacks for financial damages.
All five of the banks have been heavily fined by US banking regulators for handling international financial transactions for Iranian entities in violation of the sanctions, and trying to hide the transactions.
But the suit goes a step farther.
It alleges that the banks knowingly took part in Iran's "conspiracy" to evade financial sanctions.
In addition, it alleges that they "also committed further acts of international terrorism... by knowingly (or with reason to know) facilitating financial transactions with Iran, which each such defendant knew was a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism."