BoNY Wants Case Dismissed

The Bank of New York fought for the dismissal on Monday of a $22.5 billion lawsuit, arguing that a Russian civil court cannot enforce U.S. criminal laws against it and questioning the size of the claim.

Judge Lyudmila Pulova did not rule on any of the motions, giving the Russian lawyers until May 13 to prepare a response.

Since last May, the Federal Customs Service has been seeking compensation from the bank after its vice president was convicted in the United States of helping to launder more than $7 billion from Russia from 1996 to 1999.

The Russian side, applying the U.S. Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, has said it is entitled to triple the value of all the money laundered, making $22.5 billion.

The bank's head lawyer, Ivan Marisin, attacked this claim on two fronts. He said that RICO, a law adopted to combat the mafia, is in the U.S. criminal code, not the civil code, and therefore cannot be applied by a civil court, let alone a Russian one.

Judge Pulova -- who showed visible annoyance with Marisin after he called for her dismissal at the previous hearing -- said he should let the court decide what laws it can apply.

"What about the heads of the bank?" Pulova asked. "Can we go after them using RICO?"

Marisin replied that, for a criminal court in Russia, this might be possible.

Marisin also argued that the triple damages were groundless and challenged the Russian side to substantiate them.

"Not a single document has been presented to prove any losses suffered by the Russian Federation," Marisin said.