New York Court Has Sufficient Jurisdiction Over Foreign Bank Where Bank Purposefully Uses Correspondent Bank Account in New York
In a recent New York District Court decision in Official Comm. Of Unsecured Creditors of Arcapita Bank B.S.C. v. Bahr, Islamic Bank, 2016 U.S. Dist Lexis 42635 (S.D.N.Y. 2016), the court considered whether the use of a correspondent bank account provides a sufficient basis to exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign bank. There, the Bahraini banks set the terms of investment placements and designated New York correspondent bank accounts to receiver the funds. The banks then actively directed the funds at issue into the New York accounts.
The Committee’s cause of action for the avoidance of preferential transfers arose from the use of the correspondent bank accounts. Hence, the heart of the claim was the receipt of the transferred funds in the New York correspondent bank accounts. The Bahraini banks deliberately chose to receive funds in US dollars and designated the correspondent bank accounts in New York to receive the funds. This deliberate choice made the exercise of jurisdiction constitutional. “Where, as here, the defendant’s in-forum activity reflects its ‘purposeful availment’ of the privilege of carrying on its activities here, the defendant has established minimum contacts sufficient to confer a court with jurisdiction over it, even if the effects of the defendant’s conduct are felt entirely outside of the United States.”
Thus, if a foreign party deliberately choses to use the US banking system to effectuate a transaction and a cause of action arises from that transaction, the foreign party can be forced to defend itself in the US courts.