Clearstream sued over Iran claims


 Etienne Delorme (archives)

Legal: Clearstream is being sued for allegedly facilitating the transfer of frozen Iranian assets out of the US, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said a group of American families--whose relatives were killed in the 1983 terrorist attack on the US Marines barracks in Beirut--are suing Clearstream in federal court in New York. The lawsuit alleges that in 2008 Clearstream illicitly helped Iran move $250 million out of its New York bank accounts, which were frozen after a US judge ruled Tehran sponsored the bombing.

The judge later unblocked the $250 million after Clearstream showed the disputed funds did not belong to Iran, according to the Journal. The lawsuit asserts Clearstream provided false documentation to the judge.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Clearstream told Delano.lu: “the plaintiffs' claim is without merit, as Clearstream will establish at the appropriate point in the litigation. We intend to defend itself vigorously against the plaintiffs' claim to the fullest extent.

The spokesman said, “Clearstream made a decision in November 2007 to close its Iranian customer accounts which are held outside the United States.” He added that today “no Iranian customer may access assets, whether securities or cash balances within Clearstream.

Luxembourg-based Clearstream, which provides services to financial institutions, is owned by Deutsche Börse, which is currently negotiating the acquisition of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange and several other US and European bourses. The Journal said the negative attention surrounding the lawsuit may stymie the deal.

The case was filed last year, but the American newspaper only recently obtained copies of unsealed court documents.