Estate of Heiser v. Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ

Civil Practice

New York Law Journal


Judge P. Kevin Castel

Petitioners are family members and the estates of U.S. military personnel killed in the 1996 terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Another court's rulings in 2006 and 2009 deemed Iran, its Ministry of Information & Security and its Revolutionary Guard Corps jointly liable for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and awarded damages exceeding $591 million. Discussing the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, district court granted petitioners judgment on their motion to compel the New York branch of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ to turn over $356,000 in electronic funds transfers—owned by Iranian entities listed by Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) as a "proliferator of weapons of mass destruction" or global terrorist—which were blocked by U.S. Treasury Department directives, and which sit in interest-bearing accounts held by Bank of Tokyo. Noting that Petitioners provided evidence that the eight non-party Iranian Entities were instrumentalities of Iran's government, the court accepted the United States' representations that no OFAC license was required to authorize release of the blocked assets.

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