Justia Banking Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Law
Red Tree Investments, LLC v. PDVSA, Petróleo
Defendant-Appellant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), an oil company wholly owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, entered into two Note Agreements and a Credit Agreement with the predecessor-in-interest to now-Plaintiff-Appellee Red Tree Investments, LLC (“Red Tree”). PDVSA became delinquent on its obligations under the contracts. Red Tree’s predecessor-in-interest accelerated the outstanding debt. Then Red Tree initiated these actions in Supreme Court, New York County, which Defendants removed to district court. PDVSA claimed that any further payment under the Agreements was impossible and should therefore be excused. The district court granted summary judgment against PDVSA on the grounds that PDVSA had failed to provide sufficient evidence that payment was impossible or in the alternative, that any impediment to payment was not reasonably foreseeable. It therefore entered judgment in favor of Red Tree and imposed post-judgment interest. On appeal, PDVSA contends that the district court erred in concluding that no reasonable trier of fact could find that payment was impossible or that U.S. sanctions were unforeseeable. PDVSA further asserts that the district court incorrectly calculated post-judgment interest. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that payment by PDVSA was not impossible. Further, the court concluded that the district court did not err in its calculation of post-judgment interest. The court explained that under the plain language of the Note and Credit Agreements, the outstanding principal and interest that accrued prejudgment—including both default and ordinary interest—are subject to default interest post-judgment. View "Red Tree Investments, LLC v. PDVSA, Petróleo" on Justia Law
Siemens Energy, Inc. v. PDVSA
In January 2017, Defendant-Appellant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), an oil company wholly owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, entered into a Note Agreement with then-Plaintiff-Appellee Dresser-Rand Company. PDVSA made two of the twelve payments due under the Note Agreement in April and July 2017 but failed to make any subsequent payments. In February 2019, Dresser-Rand declared PDVSA to be in default, accelerated the debt, and initiated this action in Supreme Court, New York County, which Defendants removed to the district court. PDVSA claimed that any further payment was impossible and should therefore be excused. The district court concluded that PDVSA had failed to prove that repayment was impossible. It therefore entered judgment in favor of Dresser-Rand. On appeal, PDVSA contends that the district court erred in concluding that payment was not impossible. PDVSA further asserts that the district court incorrectly calculated post-judgment interest. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that payment by PDVSA was not impossible, and the court further concluded that PDVSA forfeited any arguments relating to post-judgment interest. The court explained that the evidence demonstrates that PDVSA never attempted payment to a different bank or in an alternative currency, nor did it investigate whether this manner of payment would have been truly impossible. Instead of the evidence shows, did nothing. PDVSA cannot benefit from the impossibility defense on speculation. View "Siemens Energy, Inc. v. PDVSA" on Justia Law
Bartlett v. Baasiri
The plaintiffs in this case are American service members who were wounded, and the relatives of service members who were killed or wounded, in terrorist attacks carried out in Iraq from 2004 to 2011 by proxies of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. In 2019, victims 20 and their family members sued several Lebanese banks, alleging that the banks aided and abetted the attacks by laundering money for Hezbollah. After Plaintiffs filed suit, the United States Department of the Treasury labelled one of those banks, Jammal Trust Bank (JTB), a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. That designation prompted the Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s central bank, to liquidate JTB and acquire its assets. JTB then moved to dismiss the case against it, on the ground that it was now entitled to sovereign immunity as an instrumentality of Lebanon. The district court denied the motion, holding that a defendant is entitled to foreign sovereign immunity only if it possesses such immunity at the time suit is filed. JTB appealed. The Second Circuit vacated. The court held that immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1604, may attach when a defendant becomes an instrumentality of a foreign sovereign after a suit is filed. Further, the court explained that it was the U.S. designation of JTB as a terrorist organization, not any attempt by Lebanon to avoid this lawsuit, that forced the bank into liquidation and public receivership. View "Bartlett v. Baasiri" on Justia Law
The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v.
Respondent is a former employee who won a judgment in Argentina's National Court of Labor Appeals against Citibank, N.A. Petitioner, the Argentinian branch of Citibank, N.A., filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association and brought the proceedings below. The district court compelled arbitration, preliminarily enjoined the employee from enforcing the Argentinian judgment against Petitioner, and held Respondent in contempt of court. It also denied his motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Petition. Therefore, the district court was without authority to issue its orders in this case. The court reversed the district court's orders -- including its order to compel arbitration, the preliminary injunction it entered against Respondent, its order finding Respondent in contempt, and its order requiring Respondent to pay the Branch's attorneys' fees and costs. The court concluded that because the Branch has not shown it enjoys independent legal existence and Citibank has not sought to substitute itself or join this action as the real party in interest, there has been no party adverse to Respondent. Without adverse parties, there can be no subject matter jurisdiction under Article III. View "The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v." on Justia Law
OPTIONAL CAPITAL, INC. V. DAS CORPORATION, ET AL
In its prior decision, the Ninth Circuit rejected Optional’s contention that DAS should be held in contempt for allegedly failing to comply with the May 2013 final judgment that was entered in these forfeiture proceedings. Optional filed a Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(a) motion to amend the May 2013 judgment to provide that (1) the $12.6 million that DAS had received “is impressed with a constructive trust in favor of Optional” and that (2) “DAS is directed to return that $12,602,824.09, with interest, to Optional’s counsel.” Optional argued that the May 2013 judgment’s failure to specifically award the $12.6 million to Optional was a “scrivener’s error” that should be corrected under Rule 60(a). The district court denied Optional’s Rule 60(a) motion. The Ninth Circuit granted DAS Corporation’s motion to summarily affirm the district court’s decision. First, the panel denied Optional’s motion to strike DAS’s papers, which alleged that DAS was not a proper party in this matter. The panel held that this contention was frivolous. The panel held that DAS had standing to object to the proposed entry of a subsequent final judgment that, in its view, did not correctly reflect the court’s earlier rulings that finally disposed of the matter as to DAS. The panel granted DAS’s motion for summary affirmance. Finally, the panel held that despite being warned in the prior decision that its prior litigation maneuvers had gone too far, Optional filed this utterly meritless appeal and filed a frivolous motion contesting DAS’s right even to be heard in this appeal. View "OPTIONAL CAPITAL, INC. V. DAS CORPORATION, ET AL" on Justia Law
Banca Pueyo SA v. Lone Star Fund IX
The principal issue in this appeal of a 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) discovery order is whether, in response to the ex parte order authorizing discovery by “interested parties” for use in foreign litigation, the respondents have a right to challenge the order’s validity pursuant to statutory requirements and the Supreme Court’s “Intel factors.” The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded, concluding that the district court here misconstrued the court’s precedent and erroneously rebuffed Respondents’ challenge on its face. The court explained that the uncontested facts suggest the possibility that (a) some of the sought discovery is accessible currently in the foreign courts; (b) Appellees’ object here is to obtain unredacted copies of that which may be protected by law in the Portuguese proceedings; and (c) therefore, the requests in many aspects pose an undue burden on the appellants. The court wrote it does not express an opinion on these points but notes that they were never thoroughly vetted in the district court because of the court’s refusal to reconsider the Intel factors and the truncated discussion of “interested parties” under Section 1728(a). Thus, by refusing to consider Appellants’ arguments and evidence challenging whether the Appellees satisfied the statutory criteria and the Intel factors to obtain Section 1782(a) discovery, the district court misapplied the law and abused its discretion. View "Banca Pueyo SA v. Lone Star Fund IX" on Justia Law
Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al.
Plaintiff brought this putative class action against more than twenty banks and brokers, alleging a conspiracy to manipulate two benchmark rates known as Yen-LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR. He claimed that he was injured after purchasing and trading a Euroyen TIBOR futures contract on a U.S.-based commodity exchange because the value of that contract was based on a distorted, artificial Euroyen TIBOR. Plaintiff brought claims under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and sought leave to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). The district court dismissed the CEA and antitrust claims and denied leave to add the RICO claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred by holding that the CEA claims were impermissibly extraterritorial, that he lacked antitrust standing to assert a Sherman Act claim, and that he failed to allege proximate causation for his proposed RICO claims. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that fraudulent submissions to an organization based in London that set a benchmark rate related to a foreign currency—occurred almost entirely overseas. Here Plaintiff failed to allege any significant acts that took place in the United States. Plaintiff’s CEA claims are based predominantly on foreign conduct and are thus impermissibly extraterritorial. As such, the district court also correctly concluded that Plaintiff lacked antitrust standing because he would not be an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Finally, Plaintiff failed to allege proximate causation for his RICO claims. View "Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al." on Justia Law
USA v. All Assets Held at Credit Suisse
The government seeks the forfeiture of a trust established by Pavel Lazarenko, a former Prime Minister of Ukraine, located abroad on the island of Guernsey. Since 2004, a Guernsey court order has prohibited Lazarenko from accessing the trust, and a federal district court order has prohibited him from challenging the Guernsey order abroad. Lazarenko contends that the district court lacked statutory authority to issue the latter order and that, in any event, the order violated principles of international comity. The DC Circuit rejected both challenges on procedural grounds. The daughters claim an interest in being able to litigate in Guernsey themselves, which might be impaired by a decision in favor of the government in this appeal. But Lazarenko himself adequately represents that interest. A would-be intervenor is adequately represented when she “offer[s] no argument not also pressed by” an existing party. Here, the daughters seek to raise precisely the same arguments as their father. Moreover, the daughters have revealed by their conduct that they find his representation adequate. In their cross-motion below, they adopted his arguments wholesale. And in this appeal, they declined the court’s invitation to appear at oral argument. The court, therefore, denied the daughters’ motion to intervene. Further, the court wrote that Lazarenko could have pressed his current objections more than a decade and a half ago, and excusing his delay would risk wasting the considerable time and resources that the parties have invested in the district court proceedings. Under these circumstances, the district court reasonably denied his motion to modify the restraining order. View "USA v. All Assets Held at Credit Suisse" on Justia Law
Estate of Jeremy I. Levin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
These consolidated cases, on appeal from a judgment of the district court, present competing claims to a blocked electronic funds transfer. The parties are the United States, which blocked the transaction because terrorists initiated it. On the other side are victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism who have obtained multimillion-dollar judgments against the Iranian government. After learning of the government’s forfeiture action, attorneys for two groups of victims of Iranian terrorism and their relatives, holding judgments against Iran, filed separate writs of attachment. Plaintiffs sought to attach the funds at Wells Fargo pursuant to two federal statutes. The first, 28 U.S.C. Section 1610(g) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). The second is Section 201(a) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (“TRIA”). The district court ruled that Iran lacked any property interest in the blocked funds held by Wells Fargo. The court, therefore, quashed Plaintiffs’ writs of attachment. The DC Circuit court reversed and remanded. The court explained that tracing resolves this case in Plaintiffs’ favor. The government admits that the $9.98 million blocked funds at Wells Fargo “are traceable to Taif” and thus to Iran. The premise of the government’s forfeiture action is that the funds are traceable to Iran. The district court, therefore, erred in concluding that Plaintiffs had failed to show that the blocked funds were, under Section 201(a) of the TRIA, the blocked assets of [a] terrorist party. View "Estate of Jeremy I. Levin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. The Republic of Argentina
Plaintiff Bainbridge Fund Ltd. is the beneficial owner of bonds issued by the Republic of Argentina. Argentina defaulted on these bonds back in 2001, but Bainbridge didn’t sue to recover them until 2016. The district court dismissed Bainbridge’s claims as untimely under New York’s six-year statute of limitations for contract actions and the Second Circuit’s nonprecedential decisions. Bainbridge appealed, asking the Second Circuit to reconsider those decisions. Specifically, Bainbridge argues that (1) the twenty-year statute of limitations for recovery on certain bonds under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 34 Section 211(a) applies to its claims against Argentina; and (2) even if the six-year limitations period for contract actions applies, it was tolled under N.Y. Gen. Oblig Law Section 17-101 because Argentina “acknowledged” this debt when it publicly listed the bonds in its quarterly financial statements (the “Quarterly Reports”). The Second Circuit rejected Plaintiff’s arguments. First, the twenty-year statute of limitations does not apply to claims on Argentine bonds because a foreign sovereign is not a “person” under N.Y. C.P.L.R. Section 211(a). Second, tolling under N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law Section 17-101 is inapplicable because the Quarterly Reports did not “acknowledge” the debt at issue in a way that reflected an intention to pay or seek to influence the bondholders’ behavior. To the contrary, Argentina repeatedly stated that the bonds “may remain in default indefinitely.” Bainbridge’s claims are thus time-barred. View "Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. The Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law