Economy, Business And Markets

US Court Rejects Claim on CBI Assets

US Court Rejects  Claim on CBI AssetsUS Court Rejects  Claim on CBI Assets

Relatives of US soldiers killed and wounded in a 1983 Beirut bombing have been barred by a US judge from seeking $1.6 billion in assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran and held by a unit of German exchange operator Deutsche Boerse, Reuters reported.

US District Judge Katherine Forrest in New York said in a decision released on Friday that they could not pursue CBI's assets held in Luxembourg because she does not have jurisdiction over the funds.

Deutsche Boerse on Friday said it welcomed the court’s decision.

A US court ordered Iran in 2007 to pay $2.65 billion in compensation to the families, who have often hurled baseless charges against Tehran over the attack. Iran has denied any involvement in the bombing.

Clearstream Banking SA, the clearing unit for Deutsche Boerse AG, had argued for the case to be thrown out because US courts have no jurisdiction over funds held in Luxembourg with no direct link to the United States.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs countered that Clearstream operates an office in New York and that the Iranian funds are denominated in dollars, with proceeds from the assets previously arriving in a Clearstream account at lender JPMorgan Chase & Co in New York.

One of the plaintiffs, Lynn Smith Derbysire, whose brother died in the bombing, said they would appeal.

“Despite this heart wrenching disappointment, the families are committed to pursuing justice,” she said in a statement.

In a similar case in 2013, Clearstream Banking SA agreed to transfer to the victims $1.8 billion in funds owned by the CBI that were held in an account at Citigroup Inc in the United States.

Judge Forrest said Clearstream’s settlement in the 2013 case released it from claims in the current action. She ruled that Banca UBAE, which holds the Luxembourg account with Clearstream, is also protected due to a similar prior settlement. And she found that JPMorgan no longer had any assets tied to Iran’s central bank to turn over.

The case is Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-9195.