Afghanistan Fight of U.S. Seizure Advanced in D.C.

     MANHATTAN (CN) – The U.S. government must submit to some jurisdictional discovery in its multimillion forfeiture action, a federal judge ruled.
     Uncle Sam filed the action in 2012, claiming that executives with Afghanistan-based Hikmat Shadman Logistics Services Co. bribed at least two people to win a supply-trucking subcontract from TOIFR Global Life Support Systems in October 2007.
     Trying to scale back the $77.9 million it ultimately paid Hikmat Shadman under the contract, the government initially purported to have found two accounts where $70.9 million of those funds were deposited.
     Afghanistan International Bank in particular saw $10.1 million seized from its interbank account at Standard Chartered Bank in New York in May 2013.
     After tying just $4.3 million of that amount to Shadman, the United States released $5.7 million to the bank.
     Disputing the government’s right to the $4.3 million, however, Afghanistan International Bank filed a claim of interest and served the United States with various interrogatories and a request for production last year.
     The government moved to strike the bank’s claim to the seized funds on the basis of standing, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in Washington, D.C., found last week that the issue of standing is precisely the point of four interrogatories that the bank submitted, Kay found those interrogatories appropriate to answer but denied all of the bank’s other interrogatories as premature.
     The U.S. government is also not entitled to a protective order against the discovery, the court found.
     “Granting the United States’ protective order would be an overly broad measure that would deny AIB the opportunity to establish statutory standing,” Kay wrote.
     Both parties filed a statement of stipulated facts on Feb. 18.

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