Families of victims of a deadly 1983 bombing of U.S. Marines in Lebanon filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to hold Standard Chartered Bank and its New York branch accountable.
They claim in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that the bank conspired with Iran and its agents to hide Iran’s assets from them. They’re seeking to trace assets as they try to enforce a $2.6 billion judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
A federal court in Washington, D.C., issued the award in 2007 after Iran failed to contest claims it was involved in the bombing, which killed 241 servicemen at a Marines facility in Beirut.
The lawsuit said the bank’s “success in building a massive business clearing U.S. dollar transactions on behalf of Iranian financial institutions was a result of concerted efforts to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.” It said the bank’s executives “continued year-after-year to process the illicit Iranian transactions in order to pad” the bank’s profits.
Standard Chartered spokeswoman Julie Gibson said the bank does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit came a day after New York’s financial regulator said he’d reached a $340 million settlement with the British bank to resolve an investigation into whether it schemed with the Iranian government to launder money. The deal announced Tuesday subjects the bank's New York branch to two years of monitoring.
Standard Chartered Bank said in a statement Monday that it “strongly rejects” and “contests” the New York regulators’ portrayal of its transactions with Iranian banks. It said “well over 99.9 percent” of the questioned transactions with Iran complied with all regulations and the few transactions that didn’t amounted to $14 million. It said none of its Iranian payments was on behalf of any designated terrorist group.