Victims of 1983 Beirut Bombing Lose Bid to Seize Iran Assets

Victims of the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut lost a legal bid to seize $1.6 billion of Iranian assets from a Luxembourg account managed by Deutsche Boerse AG unit Clearstream Banking SA.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in New York dismissed a lawsuit seeking to seize the money because it belongs to Iran’s central bank, Deutsche Boerse said in a statement Friday. The case was brought by servicemen injured and the families of those who died in the attack, according to court records. The truck bombing killed 241 Americans.

“We acknowledge the court’s decision and consider it to be consistent with well-established U.S. and international financial-infrastructure regulations and obligations,” Deutsche Boerse said in the statement.

Forrest ruled that the bombing victims had released their claims against Clearstream and against another defendant, Banca UBAE SpA, in earlier settlements. She said the court lacks jurisdiction over funds held by the Iranian central bank outside the U.S. She also ruled that there’s nothing left in a Clearstream account held at JPMorgan Chase Bank NA.

Earlier Judgment

The plaintiffs previously won a judgment against Iran and have sought to identify state funds to seize, according to court records. They discovered that Clearstream, Deutsche Boerse’s securities depository, held frozen assets belonging to Iran’s central bank. The European Union has imposed sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program.

Deutsche Boerse also operates the Eurex futures market and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Clearstream agreed to pay $152 million to the Office of Foreign Assets Control in 2013. The money settled an investigation by the agency responsible for enforcing U.S. sanctions against Iran. OFAC had examined transactions within Clearstream’s settlement system in 2008, shortly after the securities depository decided to shut its Iranian customers’ accounts.

The case is Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 13-cv-9195, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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