$1.075 billion available for third-round payments from Iraq War Fund
It was announced by Deborah L. Connor, the Interim Special Master of the Fund, that $1,075,000,000 will be available for third-round payments from the Fund. Third-round payments will be authorized by the Special Master to eligible claimants by May 19, 2020. Subsequent rounds of payment will be authorized by the Special Master by January 1 in subsequent years, if funds are available, until the USVSST Fund expires in 2030.
As you may be aware, the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism (USVSST) Fund, commonly referred to as the Iraq War Fund, was established to provide compensation to individuals who were injured by acts of international state sponsored terrorism. The Fund is funded by certain case proceeds and penalties that arise from “a violation of any license, order, regulation, or prohibition issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA),” or related scheme that involves acting on behalf of or doing business with a state sponsor of terror (1). All funds arising from criminal matters related to such violations, including the net proceeds from the sale of property from any of these violations, must be deposited into the USVSST Fund. For civil matters, as of November 21, 2019, seventy-five percent of all funds and proceeds from the sale of property from such violations must be deposited into the Fund as well.
Standard Chartered Bank agrees to pay more than $1 billion after violating IEEPA
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), a multinational banking and financial services institution headquartered in London, England, agreed last April to a forfeiture of $240 million as well as a $480 million fine for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The criminal conspiracy centers around SCB's processing of approximately 9,500 transactions totaling nearly $240 million through the U.S. financial system for the benefit of Iranian entities. SCB has further agreed to pay an additional financial penalty of $292.2 million, bringing the total to over 1 billion dollars.
Concerning the conspiracy, the bank admitted that two former employees knowingly conspired to help manage accounts and conduct U.S. dollar transactions for Iran-connected customers while also helping conceal their connections to Iran to avoid suspicion. One of these employees pleaded guilty for conspiring to defraud the United States and to violate IEEPA (2). Mahmoud Reza Elyassi, an Iranian national and former customer of Standard Chartered Bank, faces two criminal charges related to his alleged participation in the conspiracy.
Brian Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the of the Justice Department’s criminal division commented, “Today’s resolution sends a clear message to financial institutions and their employees: if you circumvent U.S. sanctions against rogue states like Iran – or assist those who do – you will pay a steep price… The Justice Department is committed to protecting our U.S. financial system and will continue to hold financial institutions and individuals to account when they violate U.S. sanctions laws” (3). FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney adds, “U.S. sanctions laws exist to protect our national security and the integrity of our financial systems. Global banks that facilitate transactions through our financial institutions have to play by these rules, plain and simple. Allowing hostile nations access to our economy is dangerous business.”
Funding the Iraq War Fund
Standard Chartered Bank’s forfeitures and fines were among those violations mentioned above with partial or total qualifying deposits that were received by the Fund in fiscal year 2019. Similar cases involving JPMorgan Chase Bank amd UniCredit Bank AG were also added to the Fund in 2019. It was announced by Deborah L. Connor, the Interim Special Master of the Fund, that $1,075,000,000 will be available for third-round payments from the Fund. Third-round payments will be authorized by the Special Master to eligible claimants by May 19, 2020. Subsequent rounds of payment will be authorized by the Special Master by January 1 in subsequent years, if funds are available, until the USVSST Fund expires in 2030.
Looking back, the Fund had allocated $1.025 billion in fiscal year 2017 for initial first-round payments, which were issued to eligible claimants on a rolling basis beginning on March 10, 2017. In this first round of disbursements, 2,024 claimants received awards ranging from approximately $1,300 to $2.7 million dollars (4). Claimants who received an award in the first round of payments were eligible for future distributions without having to re-submit an application.
The Fund received 3,743 new applications in consideration for second-round payments, of which 3,172 were determined to be eligible claims by the Special Master. Second-round payments, totaling $1.095 billion, were issued beginning on January 2, 2019 on a rolling basis to eligible claimants from this round and the first round. Generally, the award amounts for second-round claimants ranged from approximately $2,000 to $840,000 (5).
You may be entitled to compensation from the Fund
If you or a loved one are a U.S. military service member, veteran, or military contractor who suffered injuries from certain explosive terrorist devices between 2003 and 2011 in Iraq or Afghanistan, you may have a claim for significant damages without ever going to court and even if you are already receiving disability or other compensation. Complete the form on this page for a free and no-obligation review of your case. We're here to help.
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