MANHATTAN (CN) – The administration of President George Bush violated the Constitution and the financial privacy of a host of American businesses by obtaining from Belgium-based SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) a database containing records of all the financial transactions that businesses conducted through SWIFT, says a class action filed in Federal Court.
The Bush administration demanded the records as part of its Terrorism Finance Tracking Program.
Amidax Trading Group sells its products worldwide. It cites a June 23, 2006, press conference by then-Treasury Secretary John Snow, who said: “We started with a narrowly targeted subpoena. That’s how we started. SWIFT wasn’t able to respond to a narrowly targeted subpoena. Remember, the subpoena had to be tied terrorism. This is not a subpoena that gives us access to data that doesn’t have linkages to terrorism. Once the data was available to us, we targeted leads, intelligence leads, in going in and making inquiries on the data. Se we started with really narrowly crafted subpoenas, all tied to terrorism SWIFT wasn’t able to provide to us … to respond to our request to provide us with the answers to the subpoena because they didn’t have the ability to extract the particular information from their broad database so they said to us, ‘We’ll give you all the data.'””
Amidax cites the phrase – “We’ll give you all the data” – to claim that its financial privacy was violated, in violation of state and federal constitutions, wiretap laws, the Financial Privacy Act, and state consumer laws. It claims Germany, Belgium and Switzerland have declared the defendants’, and SWIFT’s, actions illegal, and a working group of the European Commission has also concluded that.
Amidax claims, “the Government Defendants acted in bad faith in accepting SWIFT’s entire database.”
Amidax claims, “sometime after September 11, 2001, the Government Defendants made requests outside existing legal process for financial records from Defendant SWIFT,” and that SWIFT “continues to disclose transactions to the United States Government as part of the TFTP.”
It claims, “No individual court-approved warrants or judicial subpoenas were sought or issued for the many millions of records in the database before it was disclosed.”
It claims that “According to U.S. Treasury Department Under Secretary Stuart Levey, at least one person has been removed from the operation for conducting a search considered in appropriate.”
Amidax seeks statutory and punitive damages for the class. Its lead counsel is Bruce Afran of Princeton, N.J.