National Security

Blumenthal unveils bill to ease terror victims’ access to damages

Greg Nash

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) unveiled legislation Thursday that would make it easier for terror victims to recover court-awarded funds from Iran.

{mosads}The bill, according to Blumenthal, closes two loopholes that have allowed Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism to hide funds through illegal transfers to and from foreign banks.

“Victims of terrorism and their families have waged courageous legal campaigns to hold state sponsors of terrorism accountable for their atrocities, only to be thwarted,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “My bill will ensure that state sponsors of terrorism cannot hide from American justice.”

Under U.S. law, victims of terrorist attacks can sue individual terrorists and nations on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terror list — but often struggle to collect any funds a judge may award if the money is not housed in the United States.

The so-called Terrorism Victims Protection Act would change current law to direct that blocked, in-transit funds are the property of the terrorist or state sponsor of terror.

The Treasury Department often blocks assets sent to or from terrorists by intercepting electronic fund transfers, but right now, those funds are considered to belong to the transferring financial institutions when they’re moved — not the sender or the recipient.

The bill would also nullify any transfers that should have been blocked under existing executive branch orders.

“Current law allows banks to avoid the jurisdiction of U.S. courts by transferring funds out of the United States, even when the banks should know that such transfers are illegal,” according to a release.

Blumenthal announced the legislation on the steps of the Hartford, Conn., District Court, alongside survivors and families of Marines killed by a suicide bomber in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.

The victims are seeking to collect $1.67 billion in damages from Iran, awarded to them in a 2016 Supreme Court judgement.

The ruling drew swift ire from Tehran, where President Hassan Rouhani reportedly called it a “flagrant theft and a legal disgrace.”

Tags Richard Blumenthal

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