Arab Bank lawyers claim Pando story poisons jury pool; judge disagrees
Earlier this week I published an in-depth feature story on Arab Bank and a lawsuit that seeks to hold it responsible for facilitating massive amounts of terror financing. A few days after "Follow the Money: Exposing the secret U.S. operations that help fund suicide bombers" went online, lawyers representing Arab Bank filed a complaint with the court, claiming that two of the attorneys I quote in the story had violated Rules of Professional Conduct in an attempt to "taint the jury pool." They sought remedies that could include "a change of venue, trial postponement," as well as "emphatic warnings to the press and parties.”
Shand S. Stephens, the DLA Piper attorney who signed the Feb. 26th letter, which Pando attained through the public document database Pacer.gov, extracted several passages from my article. He claimed that attorneys Tab Turner and Gary Osen "impugn Arab Bank and its employees, make numerous misstatements about highly-contested factual and legal matters in this litigation, and purport to reveal confidential mediation discussions."
Some of the key bits include:
Mr. Turner describes the Bank’s executives as 'roaches,' 'criminals,' and the 'lowest form of humanity.'
Mr. Osen is quoted as referring to Arab Bank’s participation in the 'banal evil of the international cash-for-martyrdom industry' -- a perversion of the facts in the case relevant to Arab Bank, and a crude reference to Hannah Arendt’s famous history of Adolf Eichmann Nazi leaders, which is titled the 'Banality of Evil.'
Mr. Osen and Mr. Turner parade their false and prejudicial claims that Arab Bank participated in the assembly of 'martyr kits' for suicide bombers, and that Arab Bank was 'facilitating terror' from its offices on Madison Avenue. The letter also contains errors beyond misspelling my last name. (I am referred to as "Pennenberg," not Penenberg.)
Mr. Osen and Mr. Turner also expound on the February 2004 seizure by the Israel Defense Forces of third-party funds in accounts located at Arab Bank – in clear disregard of this Court’s ruling that evidence about the IDF seizure is not generally admissible at trial.I did not initially learn of the Israel Defense Force seizing millions of dollars from Arab Bank through Turner and Osen. It was a press spokesman for the bank who emailed me a document from the IDF that was ruled inadmissible by the court, which IDF clarified in a follow up letter (also not allowed to be entered into evidence) that revealed the seizure of assets linked to terror groups like Hamas.
Mr. Osen and Mr. Turner also improperly disclose the payment of a $24 million fine by Arab Bank’s New York Branch to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency arising from a 2004 Consent Order, evidence that this Court has held is likely inadmissible at trial, and then mischaracterize the basis for the OCC fine.That information is available online in a press release from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which I linked to in the article.
The letter concludes that "the Pando.com article appeared shortly after the parties submitted their Preliminary Jury Questionnaire on February 14, and its timing can only be seen as an effort to bias the jury pool in light of the previously scheduled May 5 trial date in this matter."
In a terse response, Judge Brian Cogan of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District, rejected the claims.
"The Court sees nothing that warrants judicial intervention," he wrote.
You can read the complete letter below.
[Image via Wikimedia]