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HBL to counter head on allegations of terror financing in US

In a statement issued today, HBL said the allegations were “meritless”, adding that the bank was contesting them fully and vigorously.

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Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that Habib Bank Limited (HBL), faces secondary liability in a terror funding case in the United States, where the plaintiffs claimed the bank aided and abetted al-Qaeda terrorism and participated in a conspiracy to launch assaults that killed or injured 370 people.

Pakistan’s largest commercial bank issued a statement clarifying that the allegations were “meritless”, adding that the bank was contesting them “fully and vigorously”.

To clarify, HBL faces liabilities under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act as a party that “aids and abets, by knowingly providing substantial assistance, or who conspires with the person who committed such an act of international terrorism”, according to a New York district court order issued on September 28.

Read more: HBL Enriching Lives: Leading a purpose led transformation for itself & the nation

HBL has been accused of “knowingly and substantially” helping “Al-Qaeda and its proxies evade sanctions”. HBL was further accused of taking “deliberate steps to help customers evade international sanctions regimes”, and in doing so incurred business risk that ultimately led to its expulsion from the US.

While responding to the allegations, HBL reiterated its commitment to combating terror financing and implementing strict money laundering compliance controls.

Journalist and Financial Consultant, Head of Research at Business Recorder, Ali Khizar shared on Twitter the clarification given by the bank in a thread.

 

“The public record is clear that HBL is unwavering in its commitment to combating the financing of terrorism, and — as has been well documented — its extensive global implementation of anti-money laundering compliance controls has been highly successful and lauded by regulators around the world,” HBL said in its statement.

Read more: HBL wins praise for Pakistan’s FATF achievement

Moreover, HBL said its motion was successful in two respects, the court dismissed the primary liability claim and narrowed the case substantially.

It was further clarified by the HBL that the court stated that Secondary liabilities will be evaluated following due legal proceedings and no judgement was passed by the court on this matter.

Read more: HBL: The Only Commercial Bank in SCO Interbank Consortium, Tashkent

“HBL proactively initiated a business transformation program, in early 2018, around its control and compliance processes and systems to adhere to international standards,” the statement read.

Furthermore, HBL has made investments in management and resources to strengthen its AML and CFT protocols by partnering with global experts in this field.

The statement was concluded by saying “the bank seeks to adhere to the highest standards of Compliance with international and country laws and regulations.”

The bank faces the liabilities under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act as a party that “aids and abets, by knowingly providing substantial assistance, or who conspires with the person who committed such an act of international terrorism”, according to a New York district court order issued on September 28.

It is pertinent to mention that HBL Chairman Sultan Ali Allana played an important role for Pakistan to get through FATF by hiring and paying millions of dollars to top international consultants required to guide the Pakistan team.