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Pakistan's largest private bank HBL 'aided al-Qaeda terror'

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Islamabad | September 30, 2022 6:59:10 PM IST
Pakistan's largest multinational private sector bank Habib Bank Limited (HBL) is facing allegations in the United States of facilitating terror financing by aiding al-Qaeda, media reports said.

According to the plaintiff the bank aided and abetted al-Qaeda's terrorism and joined in a conspiracy to launch attacks that killed or injured 370 people in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2019, reported Dawn.

However, the bank said that it is contesting the charges "fully and vigorously" in a US court.

In its order issued on September 28, a New York district court said that the bank faces liabilities under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act as a party that "aids and abets, by knowingly providing substantial assistance, or who conspires with the person who committed such an act of international terrorism."

"The complaints allege that defendant took deliberate steps to help customers evade international sanctions regimes, and in doing so incurred business risk that ultimately led to defendant's expulsion from the US. Those allegations are sufficient ...," the order added, reported Dawn.

According to a different report by The Express Tribune, about 370 individual complainants had demanded compensation from HBL. As the news broke out of the charges against the bank, there was a big fall registered in the bank's share price on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Thursday.

As per the reports, the court had agreed to dismiss primary liability claims but denied the dismissal of secondary liability (where one party assumes legal responsibility for the actions of another party) claims against the bank.

Reacting over the grave legal charges, the HBL while speaking to The Express Tribune on Thursday said that the allegations in the complaints were "meritless" and that it was contesting them "fully and vigorously".

"The public record is clear that HBL is unwavering in its commitment to combating the financing of terrorism, and -- as has been well documented -- its extensive global implementation of anti-money laundering compliance controls has been highly successful and lauded by regulators around the world," an HBL statement read.

"The court also stated that secondary liabilities will be evaluated following due legal proceedings and no judgement was passed by the court on this matter," HBL added, reported the media outlet.

This comes in the backdrop of Paris-based global financial transaction watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) reviewing counterterrorism measures taken by Pakistan.

Pakistan has remained on FATF's grey list since 2018 for suspected financial transactions in the past. HBL's share price fell by the maximum allowed limit of 7.50 per cent in a day or by Rs 6.11 to close at Rs 75.36 with 1.83 million shares turnover on the PSX on Thursday. (ANI)

 
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