Fairfield University business professor comments on prosecution against banks that deal with sanctioned countries


Image: Debra StraussAmerican authorities are pursuing cases against some of the world's most prestigious banks for transferring funds involving countries sanctioned by the U.S., including Iran and Sudan.

In a recent landmark case, BNP Paribas reportedly pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Trading with the Enemy Act for years of illegal transactions with Iran, Sudan, and Cuba totaling almost $9 billion. The bank also reportedly agreed to an $8.97 billion dollar settlement with U.S. authorities.

Debra M. Strauss, J.D., associate professor of business law at Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business, had the following to say about the case:

"This case is the latest in a long line of cases seeking to fight terrorism through financial means. By seizing assets or assessing fines on banks and other institutions doing business with terrorist organizations and state sponsors of terrorism, the government is taking steps to penalize and deter those who enable these schemes and thereby to limit the funding for future terrorist acts. Ultimately a portion of these funds should be used to compensate the victims of terrorism by helping to fulfill the judgments they have been awarded through the courts in civil actions against state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran."

Dr. Strauss's work has been instrumental both in helping plaintiffs/victims pursue cases against countries that are considered state-sponsors of international terrorism, and in the development of legislation to facilitate these claims passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush. An article written by Dr. Strauss was cited numerous times by a federal judge in his decision regarding 'In re: Islamic Republic of Iran Terrorism Litigation' and in other cases that involved plaintiffs who brought their claims against Iran for providing material support to terrorist organizations. Another of Dr. Strauss's articles was cited in a landmark federal case, allowing a civil lawsuit against Libya and Libyan officers by victims of the terrorist act that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University and Yale Law School, Dr. Strauss teaches 'International Law' and 'Business Law and Ethics' at the Dolan School of Business.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 17, 2014

Vol. 47, No. 5