The Bank of China on Thursday rejected accusations by five Israeli families who are reportedly suing the bank for providing services for terrorist groups.
The bank has seen media reports about the lawsuit and said the accusations were “entirely groundless,” adding that it had not been served with any litigation documents, a Bank of China official told Dow Jones Newswire on condition of anonymity.
“The Bank of China strictly bans any kind of financial services for any terrorist groups in line with UN regulations against money-laundering and terrorist financing, as well as laws in China and other jurisdictions where the company operates,” the official said.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York State court accuses the bank of making several millions of dollars in wire transfers for the terrorist organization beginning in 2003.
Eight high school and seminary students were killed and 15 were injured in March 2008 when a Palestinian man from eastern Jerusalem entered the Mercaz Harav yeshiva grounds in Jerusalem and opened fire.
Hamas praised the attack but denied responsibility for it.
“The banking giant knowingly assisted the Islamic group to carry out this Jerusalem attack with the full approval of the Chinese government,” attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, who is representing the families, said in a statement.
The transfers were initiated by the Hamas leadership in Iran and Syria, processed through Bank of China branches in the United States and sent on to a Bank of China account in China operated by a senior terrorist, according to Shurat HaDin, which said the funds went to Hamas and other West Bank and Gaza terror groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad.
“Usually, US citizens have the right to file lawsuits against those who sponsor and execute terror. In this suit, we were able to make use of laws allowing non-Americans to also sue in US courts in the case of terrorism,” Darshan-Leitner said.
The United States has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization since 1997 and as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” since 2001. As such, Hamas is subject to strict economic sanctions intended to prevent it from conducting banking activities that help finance its attacks.