Friday, August 22, 2008

Bank of China Sued in Los Angeles Court for Aiding Terror Attacks in Israel

Suit by victims of rocket attacks and suicide bombings in the Jewish state details how Bank of China transferred millions of dollars to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups, and rebuffed demand by Israeli counterterrorism officials to halt payments Over 100 victims of terrorist attacks carried out by the Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (“PIJ”) terror organizations in Israel between 2004 and 2007 have filed an historic civil action in Los Angeles Superior Court against China’s largest bank, the Bank of China Ltd. (“BOC”). The suit, Zahavi v. Bank of China, seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

The plaintiffs allege in their civil complaint that starting in 2003, BOC executed dozens of wire transfers for the Hamas and PIJ totaling several million dollars. These dollar transfers were initiated by the PIJ and Hamas leadership in Iran and Syria, were processed through BOC’s branches in the United States and were sent on to a BOC account in China operated by a senior operative of the Hamas and PIJ. From there, the funds were transferred to Hamas and PIJ leaders in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and used to carry out terrorist attacks.

In April 2005, Israeli counterterrorism officers met with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and China’s Central Bank regarding these Hamas and PIJ wire transfers. The Israelis demanded that the Chinese officials take action to prevent BOC from making any further such transfers. Despite the Israeli warnings, the BOC – with the Chinese government’s approval – continued to wire terrorist funds for the Hamas and PIJ.

The plaintiffs, who are represented by attorneys Federico C. Sayre of Los Angeles, Robert J. Tolchin of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Israel, include the family of Afik Zahavi, a four year-old boy who was murdered on June 28, 2004 in a Hamas missile attack in the town of Sderot. The toddler was on his way to nursery school when he was killed. For more details see

Other plaintiffs include the families of Emi Elmaliah, and Michael Saadon, who were murdered on January 27, 2007 in a suicide bombing in a bakery in Eilat. The attack was carried out by a PIJ bomber from Gaza. See:

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner stated that: “BOC knowingly assisted Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to carry out terrorist attacks with the full approval of the Chinese government, and rejected requests by the Israeli government to cease and desist. BOC even had the chutzpah to make these funds transfers through its U.S. branches right under the nose of the Justice Department, despite the fact that Hamas and the PIJ are designated terrorist organizations and that such wire transfers are a crime under American law. We expect BOC to now pay very heavily for its support for terrorism.”

A copy of the complaint is available here:

For more information please contact: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

(US) 212-591-0073

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