Arab Bank logo.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jordan’s Arab Bank announced on Wednesday that it will appeal the September 2014 US Brooklyn federal court judgment against it for financing terrorism, but that the appeal will be tied to a settlement it struck with the plaintiffs in August.
The judgment was the first terrorism financing judgment against a major bank in US history and foreshadowed the coming of two more recent judgments against the Palestinian Authority and Iran, respectively.
The highly public trial in the case lasted five weeks and revisited some of Hamas’s worst attacks, including the August 2001 suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria on downtown Jerusalem’s King George Street, which killed or wounded 130, and a range of 24 attacks during the second intifada.
A total of 297 plaintiffs who were wounded or are family members of those murdered in the 24 attacks from 1998 to 2004, which were financed via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s al-Shahid Foundation, sued the bank in 2004 for allowing itself to be used as a conduit for the terrorism funding.
While observers are used to a settlement meaning the end of the road for a case, the Arab Bank settlement, like the unprecedented case itself, was anything but typical.
In August and September 2015, contradictory reports emerged regarding the settlement amount agreed to, some estimating it to be as high as $1 billion.
The Jerusalem Post at the time revealed a complicated system of contingencies and triggers that the sides had agreed to which limited the total amount that could awarded in the case, but still left some alternate paths open for a final resolution of all issues and liability raised in the lawsuit.
Also, on Wednesday US Brooklyn federal Judge Brian Cogan signed off on a $100 million judgment relating to the September 2014 trial, but that judgment is likely to be a place-holder with the real figure being decided as part of the appeal.
As a procedural matter, the sides needed to agree to an amount for the judge to enter as a judgment so that Arab Bank could appeal.
The Post has learned that there are a limited number of possible outcomes on appeal and that for each outcome, Arab Bank and the plaintiffs have already agreed to terms about what those outcomes will mean in terms of an actual payoff.
In a joint statement, both Arab Bank and the plaintiffs stated a “prompt appeal will avoid any unnecessary delay in the plaintiffs’ recovery and result in a definitive resolution of liability issues for all 527 plaintiffs.”
The judgment against Arab Bank led to a war between the US State, Justice and Treasury Departments over whether to support the case when it came before the US Supreme Court pretrial.
Despite Jordan’s plea to block the case lest the country implode economically and politically under the weight of a multi-billion dollar judgment, the US executive branch eventually declined to block the case.