Economy, Business And Markets

US Supreme Court Ruling Against CBI Rejected

US Supreme Court Ruling Against CBI Rejected US Supreme Court Ruling Against CBI Rejected

Iranian officials have rejected a ruling by the US Supreme Court that clears the way for families of victims of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and other attacks to collect nearly $2 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday Tehran simply "refuses to recognize the ruling," which has caused backlash within the Unites States and the Supreme Court.

"As we [already] said, we do not recognize the court’s ruling and the US government knows this well,” he said, adding that “The US knows this well too that whatever action it takes with respect to Iran’s assets will make it accountable in the future and it should return these assets to Iran,” IRNA quoted him as saying in New York, where he has been staying since Monday to attend a UN debate on Sustainable Development Goals and the signing ceremony of the Paris climate change agreement.

Like Stealing Money

Earlier in the day, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said "The ruling has mocked [international] law,” adding that it "is like stealing Iran's money and we condemn it."

The high court, in a 6-2 decision, ruled Congress acted within its powers when it passed legislation in 2012 that granted victims involved a court case the explicit right to collect the money. The case was known as Bank Markazi v. Peterson, referring to the lead plaintiff Deborah Peterson, whose brother, died in the Beirut bombing.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said the legislation was “designed to aid in the enforcement of federal-court judgments” and “does not offend separation of powers principles protecting the role of the independent judiciary.”

The decision drew a vigorous dissent from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The chief justice said it makes the separation of powers laid out under the constitution a “Maginot line” that Congress can march around easily by writing laws that remove the procedural defenses to specific lawsuits.

“Hereafter, with this court’s seal of approval, Congress can unabashedly pick the winners and losers in particular pending cases,” Roberts said.

Breach of Int'l Law

The decision elicited a separate response from the Central Bank of Iran on Friday, with the manager of the bank's legal affairs department calling it "an infringement of international and the US’s own domestic laws."

 “The US has seized Eurodollar bonds the CBI had purchased in European markets in 2008,” Hamid Ghanbari was quoted as saying by the CBI website.

Ghanbari elaborated saying that the CBI had not bought any bonds issued in the US and moreover the custodian of these bonds has been outside the US. “Therefore US courts did not legally possess the authority and the right to render a verdict on seizing assets kept outside their country.”

The senior CBI official said that his bank’s second argument was that “verdicts rendered against Iran’s government and organizations like Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have nothing to do with the bank.”

“Our fourth reason was that against the plaintiffs’ claims, the CBI’s Eurodollars were not bought for commercial purposes. And our last reason was that there were debts which had to be paid using these assets.”

The CBI official stated that his bank’s arguments were clear and that the assets should have been returned to the CBI again. “The primary court however did not rule against our bank despite ‘political’ manipulation and pressure from lobbyists.”

The US congress, however, maliciously changed the original law which applying to this case in 2012 under pressure from plaintiffs, according to Ghanbari.

He stated that his bank’s case to the US Supreme Court was that the US Congress does not have the authority to pass a new law or modify a previous law in order to win a legal case which is in progress.