US court orders former top official to testify in Bank of China case, or explain why he can’t

While in gov't, Stuart Levey reportedly held meetings with bank, warned that services were indirectly aiding Islamic terror ops in Israel.

December 27, 2013 13:46
2 minute read.
Stuart Levey is sworn in before testifying in Washington July 17, 2012.

Stuart Levey swearing in 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A US federal court on Thursday ordered a former top US official on terrorism and financial intelligence to present himself to be deposed on his alleged warnings to the Bank of China that it had terrorist account holders laundering their funds through it, or to explain by January 22 why he should not be deposed.

Former first under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Stuart Levey left government service after around a decade in 2011, but according to Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, various disclosed WikiLeaks documents show that, while in government, he had meetings with the bank in which he warned it that its services were indirectly aiding and abetting Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist operations in Israel.

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The order is part of a case by the NGO (on behalf of 22 terror victims’ families), and a parallel case by the family of victim Daniel Wultz, against the bank for its indirect involvement in attacks in Israel against Americans in 2006 and 2007.

Such evidence would harm the bank’s defense that it did not know its accounts were being used by the terrorist groups until a much later date.

Shurat Hadin expects the US to try to block the deposition. Certain legal principles sometimes empower governments to hold back former officials from giving confidential information obtained during their public service.

Last week, Shurat Hadin retained a former Bush homeland security official to argue the issue of whether a federal court in Washington, DC, will order former Israeli government agent Uzi Shaya to testify regarding his alleged warnings to the bank about its terror connections.

In that part of the case, Shurat Hadin has said that Shaya was provided by Israel to testify. Shurat Hadin has said that for years Israel encouraged the families to file their lawsuit and assisted them by providing information, including a 2008 affidavit by government agent Shlomo Matalon, which described exactly where and how the money-laundering occurred.

But in mid-November, Israel filed a motion to block Shaya from testifying in the Washington court, with Shurat Hadin accusing the government of folding under pressure from China and being influenced by things that have nothing to do with to the case.

The government has based its objection to Shaya testifying in the US lawsuit mostly on sovereign immunity, avoiding setting a dangerous precedent in which its officials, including intelligence officials, can be compelled to testify in foreign courts, and avoiding revealing national security secrets.

Shurat Hadin and the Wultz family, represented by Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, have fought hard to get Shaya to testify.

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