Crypto exchange Binance, its former CEO Changpeng Zhao, along with the governments of Iran and Syria, have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by three families of victims affected by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
The plaintiffs, who include former hostages, family members of those affected and the estate of a doctor killed while treating casualties, are seeking damages under the United States Anti-Terrorism Act, claiming the defendants provided “substantial assistance” to terrorists.
The complaint was filed in New York Southern District Court on Jan. 31, stating:
“Defendant Binance processed numerous transactions associated with Hamas and related Palestinian terrorist groups between 2017 and mid-2023, providing a clandestine financing tool that Binance deliberately hid from U.S. regulators.”
The plaintiffs allege that Binance aided and abetted designated foreign terrorist organizations, providing material support to terrorists, providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages and reimbursement of costs.
The defendants also referred to Binance’s settlement with the United States Department of Justice in November, which included Anti-Money Laundering violations, stating:
“The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and U.S. regulators disclosed that for years Binance […] knowingly permitted illicit actors, including Hamas and other terror groups, to evade U.S. laws and regulatory restrictions related to terror financing.”
Binance agreed to pay a $4.3 billion fine and submit to extensive monitoring by U.S. government agencies in the settlement. Following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the cryptocurrency exchange froze accounts associated with Hamas within days at the request of Israeli law enforcement.
Calls for action on terrorism financing were heard in the U.S. Congress from both parties, with Binance being specifically named in some of them.
Cointelegraph reached out to Binance but did not receive an immediate response.