Tuesday December 06, 2022

Cases pending with US courts meritless: HBL

HBL says it is still contesting the pending cases in US

By News Desk
September 30, 2022
The Habib Bank Limited (HBL) plaza pictured in this photo.
The Habib Bank Limited (HBL) plaza pictured in this photo.

ISLAMABAD: The Habib Bank Limited (HBL) management Thursday said the cases pending with the US courts for over two years were meritless adding that a district court judge’s opinion was a procedural decision at the earliest stage of the case.

The bank said it was still contesting the pending cases. The statement came a day after the US District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield’s observation that “Habib, the largest commercial bank in Pakistan, faces secondary liability under the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act as a party that ‘aids and abets, by knowingly providing substantial assistance, or who conspires with the person who committed such an act of international terrorism.”

“First, the court dismissed all of the primary liability claims against the bank, finding that they were unsustainable. Second, the court found that even the remaining secondary liability claims may still warrant dismissal on jurisdictional grounds,” the bank said.

It said the court specifically invited the HBL to renew its motion to dismiss those remaining claims for lack of jurisdiction. It may be mentioned that a similar case was lodged in the US Federal Court against the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) where the primary and secondary liability were both dismissed. However, the claimants filed an appeal against this dismissal.

The cases against both the banks were filed around the same time with the US Federal Court which was about two years ago. The NBP case was decided about six months back where both Primary and secondary liabilities were dismissed. Subsequently the plaintiffs have filed an appeal against this judgment.

Earlier on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the HBL had failed to shake off claims of aiding and abetting al-Qaeda terrorism and joining in a conspiracy to launch attacks that killed or injured 370 plaintiffs or their family members.

Judge Lorna G. Schofield said the plaintiffs in the three consolidated cases sufficiently allege that the attacks were planned or authorized by an organization designated under the Immigration and Nationality Act as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, including al-Qaeda or one of the “syndicate FTOs,” which include Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and its alter ego Al-Rehmat Trust, the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, and the Pakistani Taliban.

“The plaintiffs sufficiently allege that the bank knew its customers were ‘integral to al-Qaeda’s overall campaign of terrorism, carried out directly and by proxy,’ which is sufficient to allege general awareness.

“The complaints also show that the bank ‘knowingly and substantially’ helped ‘al-Qaeda and its proxies evade sanctions’ and engage in terrorist acts, which satisfies the “knowing assistance” requirement, said Schofield.