Armed with the conviction that they are empowered by Congress to act as private attorneys general, a small group of plaintiffs' lawyers has opened a new front in the war on terror. Their targets are the major international financial institutions they say move large sums of money for terrorist organizations every day.
"There are a lot more dirty banks out there than people would like to believe," says Gary Osen, a member of Osen and Associate in Oradell, N. J. "The number that are actually caught is smaller." Since 2004, Osen and his co-counsel have launched three civil actions against international banks in federal courts: Linde v. Arab Bank, Weiss v. National Westminster Bank and Strauss v. Cr?(C)dit Lyonnais.
The first of the cases, Arab Bank, was brought on behalf of the family of John Linde Jr., who was killed by a bomb while escorting American diplomats in the Gaza Strip in October 2003.
Filed in 2004, the allegations gained traction in 2005 when the Office for the Comptroller of the Currency effectively shut down Arab Bank's New York branch. In August 2005 the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network fined Arab Bank $24 million for related BSA violations.