NEW YORK -- For the second time in a week, a US judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit accusing a French bank of knowingly providing financial services to charities allegedly controlled by a terrorist organization.
The ruling yesterday by US District Judge Charles P. Sifton in Brooklyn denied a defense motion by Credit Lyonnais to dismiss the suit brought by families of Americans who were victims of terrorist bombings and shootings in Israel between 2001 and 2003.
Nine of the victims were killed in the attacks, which included suicide bombings linked to the Palestinian group Hamas.
Last week, Sifton denied a motion to dismiss a similar suit against a British bank,
The French bank ``should be put on notice by this decision, which again affirms the civil remedies available to American victims of terrorism," said Gary M. Osen, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
A call to the New York lawyer for Credit Lyonnais, a subsidiary of Credit Agricole SA, was not immediately returned.
The ruling, while preserving a claim that the bank knowingly provided material support to a foreign terrorist organization, dismissed another claim that it aided and abetted the murder and wounding of US citizens.
The suit, which was filed in February under the Anti-Terrorism Act and seeks unspecified damages, accuses Credit Lyonnais of improperly doing business with a French-based charity that has been designated a terrorist organization by the Israeli and US governments.
The plaintiffs allege the bank knew the charity was funneling millions of dollars to Hamas to finance terrorism.
In court papers, the bank said it suspected that the charity, CBSP, might be involved in money laundering, but not terrorism. It cited investigations in France that cleared the group of wrongdoing.
The judge said in his ruling that ``it is reasonable to believe that when the bank noticed `unusual activity' on CBSP's accounts in 2000, in the form of large transfers of money to the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a highly publicized intifada, the bank would have investigated the organizations receiving the large transfers, including designations of terrorist organizations made by the government whose country was experiencing the terrorism."