(MENAFN- Jordan Times) As the Arab Bank continues to face allegations in the US that it provided banking services to terrorist groups, cables by the US embassy in Amman, revealed recently by WikiLeaks, defended the financial institution's reputation.
A few years ago, hundreds of Israelis filed lawsuits in a New York federal court against the bank for allegedly holding accounts that financed attacks that killed members of their families.
On July 12, 2010, a judge imposed sanctions on the Amman-based bank for failing to turn over documents requested in the case.
US District Court Judge Nina Gershon said in a ruling in Brooklyn, New York, that she would instruct jurors they may infer that the bank provided financial services to groups designated as terrorist organisations by the US and that it processed payments on behalf of a group called the Saudi Committee for the Support of Al Quds Intifada.
In three cables released by WikiLeaks, the US embassy in Amman has reportedly emphasised that the Arab Bank has always been a transparent financial institution that has never had ties with any "terrorist" organisation.
In a cable reportedly created on July 1, 2008, the embassy cited lawsuits where Israeli survivors of "terrorism" claimed that the bank had facilitated money laundering and payments from a Saudi committee to assist the beneficiaries of suicide bombers. In response, the embassy insisted that the Arab Bank had been active in anti-money laundering (AML) efforts, and is the leader among Jordanian banks for AML and countering the financing of terrorism.
In the cable, the embassy provided information on the Arab Bank and two other Jordanian lending institutions to recommend the US government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) offer financing to the three financial institutions.
"The embassy is not aware of any recent events in Jordan that would prohibit OPIC from providing financing to the three banks. All three borrowers are reputable members of Jordan's Association of Banks," according to the cable, released in August this year.
"The embassy does not have any information that these banks or their investors have known ties to terrorists, money laundering, corruption, or violations of the law or commercial/developmental considerations."
In another cable dated November 24, 2002, the US embassy reportedly offered an extensive report about Arab Bank's role in Jordan and the region.
The cable emphasised that the bank is among the "most respected, and even beloved, financial institutions in the region".
It states that it has a reputation as a transparent, competent and trustworthy banker and lender, and that its reputation has earned it a place as the "rock" of financial institutions in Jordan.
On Jordan's role in countering terrorism, the US embassy in Amman communicated to the US State Department Jordan's Annual Terrorism Report for the year, according to the leaked documents.
In a cable, dated December 2, 2003, the diplomats said that Jordan had taken many steps in its "strong support for the global coalition against terrorism", including the pursuit and conviction of suspected terrorists, requests for the extradition of suspected terrorists from other countries, and the ratification of the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, said the cable.
The cable also noted there had been "no change in the government of Jordan's strong commitment to the coalition against terrorism or to its own domestic counterterrorism programme" since 2002.
In April last year, Arab Bank filed with the US court a document provided by the Israeli military acknowledging that the bank has no links to terrorist activities, which it said was consistent with the bank's stand that the "claims in the pending lawsuits have no merit".
In November of the same year, Jordan and several Arab and international banking organisations offered information to a US appeals court requesting the review and dismissal of the New York federal court ruling against the Arab Bank.
A US embassy official in Amman on Wednesday said the embassy's policy is not to comment on WikiLeaks cables.
A spokesperson for the Arab Bank told The Jordan Times that the cables demonstrate that during the period relevant to the litigation against the Arab Bank, officials both in Jordan and the US saw the bank as a responsible banking institution that cooperated closely with governments, and was a positive force in strengthening efforts to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering.
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