NEW YORK, Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Faced with a U.S. regulatory investigation and a series of lawsuits brought by families of American and Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism, Arab Bank PLC, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, today announced plans to "gradually" close its New York branch and end its American operations. Lawyers for the American and Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism today promised to pursue the bank despite its planned closure of its New York branch. "They can run, but they can't hide," said Ron Motley, lead litigation counsel to the Israeli victims. "Every major international bank needs a presence in New York," said Gary M. Osen, one of the attorneys who filed the first civil case against Arab Bank and who today represents the families of more than 40 American victims of recent attacks during the Palestinian Intifada. "For Arab Bank to decide to abandon the largest financial market in the world is very telling." Arab Bank claims that the "operational environment in the United States is not in line with the financial institution's strategy." Lawyers for the victims suggest that the Arab Bank is seeking to avoid U.S. laws and regulations implicated by Arab Bank's systematic provision of financial services to the families of Palestinian terrorists and front organizations for Hamas and other terrorist groups. Motley and Osen said they would take immediate steps to prevent Arab Bank from removing assets and documents from the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, Arab Bank is under investigation by U.S. authorities for failing to report suspicious transactions destined for the Middle East. According to the civil suits, Arab Bank, through its Madison Avenue branch in Manhattan, has channeled large sums of money to terror front groups and the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The money transfers violate American anti-terrorism laws, according to the lawsuits that are pending in the U.S. Federal Court for the Eastern District of New York. "Whether it retains a branch in the United States or not, Arab Bank remains both legally and morally responsible for its actions. Payments to the families of suicide bombers constitute a vital part of terrorism's economic infrastructure," said former National Security Council official Lee Wolosky. With $32 billion in assets and operations in 30 countries, Arab Bank is among the largest in the Middle East and is the preeminent bank in the West Bank and Gaza. Last year it reported net profits of more than $303 million. Among other things, the Arab Bank launders Saudi payments to charitable fronts for Palestinian terrorist groups and the families of so-called "martyrs" by converting them into dollars at its Madison Avenue branch, the lawsuits allege. The funds are then re-routed to local branches of Arab Bank in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and paid out for distribution to the families of terrorists and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad front organizations, according to the lawsuits. "We are heartened by published reports that the U.S. Government intends to take action and have every confidence that the United States will protect the interests of the many American families victimized by Palestinian terrorism," said Osen. About Motley Rice LLC Motley Rice LLC is one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' litigation firms. Motley Rice attorneys gained global recognition for their pioneering work on behalf of asbestos victims, the State Attorneys General in their landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and the 9/11 families in their groundbreaking lawsuit against terrorist financiers. Motley Rice attorneys continue to seek justice in the areas of: catastrophic injury; complex case resolution; consumer and commercial fraud; environmental hazards and contamination; medical negligence and defects; occupational disease and toxic torts; and transportation defects. For more information on Motley Rice LLC call 1-800-768-4026 or visit http://www.motleyrice.com .
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