There is evidence the government of China tried to cover up a 2005 meeting it
had with top-Israeli officials about terror financing passing through the Bank
of China, according to a court transcript The Jerusalem Post obtained on
The court transcript from a hearing on Friday before US District
Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan indicated that at some later point,
the Bank of China was in possession of an internal Chinese government letter
recommending that the various agencies involved in the issue deny that the 2005
meeting had occurred.
The implied legal purpose of such a denial would be
for the Bank of China to deny that the Chinese government or the bank had any
prior notice from Israel, other than the lawsuit itself, that the bank was being
used as a money-laundering hub for terrorist financing for Islamic Jihad and
If such a denial could be pulled off, then even if the bank was
being used by Islamic Jihad and Hamas, it could be difficult or impossible to
prove the bank had any criminal intent.
Another reason the bank and China
would have wanted to deny the meeting’s occurrence would be to block Israeli
intelligence official Uzi Shaya from testifying in the case about what happened
at the meeting.
Previously, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center head Nitsana
Dershan-Leitner told the Post
that she could be compelled by the court to
testify that the government broke its promise to offer Shaya (she referred to
him only as the witness, but his name appears in the public record), as the key
witness, to testify about having put China and the bank on notice at the 2005
Darshan-Leitner had spoken to the Post
about the various
scenarios that could ensue in the aftermath of recent reports that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has prevented Shaya from testifying in the case,
under threat from China that otherwise it would cancel his recent visit
If there was no meeting, then the bank could also argue for the
irrelevance of Shaya’s testimony, on top of any alleged attempts by the Chinese
government to muscle the Israeli government into preventing him from
participating in the case.
At the hearing, Bank of China lawyer Mitchell
Berger still protested that no one from the bank was present at the meeting and
that the bank had no record of the meeting.
Berger and lawyer Lanier
Saperstein were forced, however, to admit that the 2005 meeting took place,
whether a bank representative attended or not.
Also, the lawyers appeared
uncomfortable explaining the letter suggesting that the meeting’s occurrence be
denied and the fact exploited by the plaintiff’s lawyer Lee Wolosky – that the
Chinese government is the majority shareholder of the bank.
Based on the
majority ownership, arguments could be made that if China was on notice, then
the bank was also on notice, or should have been.
The bank’s lawyers did
make an attempt to respond, though, arguing that Shaya’s testimony might make no
difference if there was no proof that the bank had notice of the meeting or its
The bank’s lawyers also said that maybe the Israeli government
was withholding Shaya’s testimony because it believed his testimony would be
inaccurate – though the court appeared to reject this out of hand.
central question of whether Shaya will testify is being reviewed by the
government, according to an official letter response to the court from July 12
by deputy director of the international department of the State Attorney’s
Office, Yitzhak Blum.
The court expressed frustration that the letter did
not give any deadline for an answer, and indicated it would be responding to
Blum’s letter by requesting a deadline.