U.S. Lawyers Invited to Argue For Russia in BoNY Lawsuit

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor whose clients have included O.J. Simpson and Michael Milken, will testify in support of the Russian government’s $22.5 billion lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon.
Dershowitz, U.S. lawyer G. Robert Blakey and retired U.S. Federal Appellate Judge George C. Pratt agreed to travel to Moscow to testify in support of the suit, the Federal Customs Service said in a statement Monday. Former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh will testify for the bank.
The customs service sued Bank of New York, the world’s biggest custodian of financial assets, last year, accusing it of helping to transfer $7 billion out of the country illegally in the 1990s. In 2005, the bank admitted that it had failed to report suspicious transactions and paid $14 million to end two criminal probes in the United States.
The willingness of Dershowitz, Blakey and Pratt “to provide independent legal testimony on Russia’s behalf speaks volumes about the legitimacy of the claims against the bank,” Steven Marks, the lead U.S. lawyer for the customs service, said in the statement. “It is reckless for the Bank of New York to continue proclaiming that this lawsuit is ‘totally without merit.”’
Bank of New York CEO Robert Kelly said in April that the suit “won’t have any material impact on the company given the safeguards in place.”
The suit is based on the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which enables a plaintiff to triple the damages being sought. Blakey was the main author of the 1970 statute, the statement said.
In 2000, Lucy Edwards, a former Bank of New York vice president in London, and her husband, Peter Berlin, admitted to U.S. officials that they had conspired to use the bank to launder more than $7 billion from Russia. They were sentenced to five years of probation in 2006.
Dershowitz, Blakey and Pratt are to appear at the next hearing in Moscow on June 30, the customs service said.