Facing dozens of plaintiffs who allege that it finances terrorism, the Jordan-based Arab Bank announced Tuesday that it is closing its New York operation. The multimillion-dollar federal lawsuits against the bank claim the Madison Avenue branch acted as a conduit for funds from Saudi Arabia to be transferred to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers as compensation.
In a statement carried by the Associated Press, officials of the bank, which is controlled by the Central Bank of Jordan, said the “gradual” closing was in line with the institution’s “vision and strategy in the medium and long terms to focus operations on the Arab region and Europe. The climate of operating in the United States at present is not expedient with the bank’s strategy and vision.” The statement did not mention the litigation.But Gary Osen, the lawyer representing the families of more than 40 American victims of terrorism, said it was “very telling” that the bank had chosen to abandon the largest financial market in the world. He said the case before Judge Nina Gershon of Brooklyn District Court was not immediately affected by the announcement, “but there may be an effect on [collecting] the judgment should we get one.”