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Friday, April 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bank Owner Loses Race with Clock to Sue Jordan

WASHINGTON (CN) - The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of a racketeering lawsuit brought by the former owner of Jordan's second-largest bank, accusing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of seizing his bank in 1989 and running it into the ground in retaliation for political speech.

Ahmad Chalabi, an opponent of Saddam Hussein's regime, founded Petra Bank in Jordan in 1977. Twelve years later, the bank purportedly had a net worth of about $42 million.

But Chalabi said he gained political enemies by speaking out against Hussein and the Jordanian government, which he charged with complicity in Hussein's crimes.

His vocal opposition allegedly angered Jordanian officials, who took over Petra Bank under false pretenses. The Jordanian government then mismanaged his bank on purpose, Chalabi said.

He said he fled the country to avoid kidnapping, and was convicted of embezzlement in absentia following a "sham trial" based on evidence gleaned through torture, intimidation and fraud.

Though the allegations supported foreign jurisdiction, the district court dismissed Chalabi's claims as time-barred.

The three-judge circuit panel agreed.

"The district court found the easiest path to resolving this case and was right to follow it, saving the plaintiff and the foreign sovereign the unnecessary expense of jurisdictional discover," Judge Tatel concluded.

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