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Bank of China denies supporting terrorists
By Mao Lijun (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-28 06:59

Bank of China (BOC), China's third-largest commercial lender by assets, has denied accusations that it transferred money to terrorist groups, and has said it will defend itself against a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.

On Friday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that more than 100 victims of terrorism in Israel had filed a lawsuit against the BOC demanding the institution stop transferring money to terrorist groups.

The suit accuses the bank of putting through dozens of wire transfers totaling several million dollars to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and ignoring Israeli demands to desist, AP said.

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The Israelis claim the money helped finance attacks between 2004 and last year.

"The charge against BOC is sheer nonsense," Wang Zhaowen, a spokesman for the bank said Wednesday.

BOC has always conducted its business in conformity to the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist requirements of the United Nations, he said.

The bank has always abided by rules set by related industry supervisors and regulators in China and abroad, and its internal anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist policies also ban financial services for terrorist organizations, he said.

BOC will clarify the facts through legal procedures, and reserves the right to file a counter-lawsuit and to adopt any other necessary legal measures, Wang said.

"We believe the American court will make a just verdict on the case according to law and the facts," he said.

The Chinese government always attaches importance to the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, he said.

The country's first anti-money laundering law took effect last year.

Under the law, banks must keep a database of clients' background information and report all large or suspicious transactions.

As of the end of 2006, a total of 1,239 cases involving 387.1 billion yuan ($56.44 billion) had been reported to police, according to the website of the central bank's China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center.

The site did not provide details of whether any cases had resulted in criminal penalties.

Xinhua contributed to the story