28/01/2013 22:58:00

UPDATE: Victims of 1983 Beirut Attack Seek $2.66 Billion From HSBC

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--Relatives of U.S. Marines killed in a 1983 terrorist attack are seeking $2.66 billion from HSBC

--The victims allege that the bank gave misleading information about its Iranian assets

--The lawsuit is part of an effort to recover a 2007 judgment against Iran

(Updates with HSBC declining comment and background in the fifth and seventh paragraphs.)

By Kristin Jones

Family members of U.S. Marines killed in a 1983 suicide bombing in Beirut have asked a U.S. federal court to force HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC, 0005.HK, HSBA.LN) to pay a $2.66 billion judgment against Iran, saying the bank gave misleading information about its holdings of Iranian assets.

The motion is part of an effort to recover a 2007 federal court judgment against Iran for its responsibility in the attack on a U.S. Marine Barracks that killed 241 American service members.

A group of 1,300 family members and survivors is suing under a U.S. law that allows victims of terrorism to enforce their judgment against assets of state sponsors of terror. The group has been working to collect the judgment by initiating legal action against international financial institutions alleged to hold Iranian assets.

Survivors and family members allege HSBC USA, N.A. gave misleading information in April 2008 when it said it didn't have any Iranian assets. However, in response to a subsequent subpoena, HSBC USA said it did hold Iranian funds at the time.

Rob Sherman, a spokesman for HSBC, said the bank declined to comment.

HSBC has lately come under fire for failures in oversight related to suspected money laundering and other illicit financial transactions. The bank in December agreed to pay $1.9 billion to settle allegations that it had failed to implement proper anti-money laundering controls, which led to the funneling of prohibited financial transactions through the U.S. financial system--including from sanctioned entities in Iran.

A similar lawsuit was filed last year by the victims' group against Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.LN, 2888.HK), alleging that the bank kept Iranian assets hidden that could have been seized as part of the 2007 ruling. The group has also sued Clearstream Banking SA of Luxembourg, a unit of Germany's Deutsche Borse AG (DBOEF, DB1.XE, DB9.XE) for allegedly assisting Iran in moving millions out of the U.S. financial system.

Write to Kristin Jones at kristin.jones@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 28, 2013 17:58 ET (22:58 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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