US orders $1.68bn payout to families of troops killed in 1983 Beirut bombing
A judge in New York ordered Iran’s central bank and a European intermediary on Wednesday to pay $1.68 billion in compensation to family members of troops killed in the 1983 car bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.
US District Judge Loretta Preska said a 2019 federal law stripped Bank Markazi, the Iran central bank, of sovereign immunity from the lawsuit, which sought to enforce a judgment against Iran for providing material support to the attackers.
The lawsuit also names Luxembourg-based Clearstream Banking SA, which is holding the assets in a client account.
Clearstream parent company Deutsche Boerse AG said on Wednesday that it was considering appealing against the decision.
Clearstream will consider “all relevant interests and responsibilities” and comply with its legal and regulatory obligations in handling the funds, Deutsche Boerse said.
The exchange said that it did not view the ruling as increasing the risk from the lawsuit in a way that would require the companies to make financial provisions.
Lawyers for the parties did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The October 23 1983 bombing at the Marine Corps barracks killed 241 US service members.
Victims and their families won a $2.65 billion judgment against Iran in federal court in 2007 over the attack.
Six years later, they sought to seize bond proceeds allegedly owned by Bank Markazi and processed by Clearstream to partially satisfy the court judgment.
Bank Markazi has argued that the lawsuit was not allowed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally shields foreign governments from liability in US courts.
In January 2020, the US Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling in the families’ favour and ordered the case to be reconsidered in light of a the new law, adopted a month earlier as part of the National Defense Authorisation Act.
Ms Preska said the 2019 law authorises US courts to allow the seizure of assets held outside the country to satisfy judgments against Iran in terrorism cases, “notwithstanding” other laws such as FSIA that would grant immunity.
A Luxembourg court in 2021 ordered Clearstream not to move the funds until a court in that country recognises the US ruling. Clearstream has challenged that decision.