The Bank of New York Mellon Doesn’t Like Michael Hanzman


Get a load of this hilariously-worded press release, obviously written in Russian and poorly translated by somebody for whom English is a second or third language. The release is about expert testimony submitted in a case brought against the Bank of New York in a Russian court by the Russian Federal Customs Service, which is represented by Podhurst lawyer Steven Marks. Here is how the release describes the case:

The meritless claims in the case, which were devised by trial lawyers from Miami, Florida, center on unspecified customs duties that the FCS alleges were owed to Russia on funds transferred out of the country in the 1990s, some of which moved through accounts at The Bank of New York. U.S. courts have summarily dismissed attempts by these trial lawyers to use the same legal theories to bring similar claims for customs duties against U.S. tobacco companies on behalf of Belize, Ecuador and Honduras.

A pretty fair and balanced account, don’t you think? From what I can glean from this amateurish press release, the question before the Moscow court is whether US RICO law could be applied and, if so, whether or not the complaint pleads a proper RICO count. In support of the motion to dismiss, the Bank submitted the affidavit of former US Attorney General Richard Thornburgh.In opposition, Steve submitted the affidavit of none other than SFL fave Michael Hanzman (sheesh, get a web presence already!), which I guess the Bank doesn’t think too highly of. Here’s their laughable account of Michael’s testimony:

Lawyers for the FCS submitted an “expert affidavit” on U.S. RICO law from Michael Hanzman, who, like FCS’s lead counsel Steven Marks, is a plaintiffs’ lawyer also based in Miami, Florida. Hanzman specializes in initiating class actions in product liability and securities law cases, not RICO law. Further, his “expert affidavit” is full of misstatements of fact and governing law, and fails to address key points made by The Bank of New York Mellon in its motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. For example:

-- Hanzman repeats the falsehood, also cited in the FCS's Statement ofClaim, that the Company admitted violating various U.S. criminalstatutes in its Non-Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Department ofJustice. As is clear from the face of the Non-Prosecution Agreementand Mr. Thornburgh's affidavit, the Company was never charged withviolating any of those criminal statutes, and it certainly did notadmit to violating them as Hanzman erroneously claims in his affidavit.-- Hanzman inexplicably cites from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the NinthCircuit, Republic of the Philippines v. Marcos, where the government ofthe Philippines brought a RICO claim in a U.S. court. This case,instead of supporting the FCS's position, in fact supports theCompany's legal argument that all RICO cases must be brought in U.S.courts.-- Hanzman fails to cite a single case where a foreign court has appliedU.S. RICO law, apparently because no such case exists.-- His affidavit completely fails to address the Company's argument thatRICO requires a court to engage in a criminal law analysis and thatthis particular court, the Russian Arbitrazh Court, does not and cannot
apply criminal law.
Yeah, Mike's not qualified to opinion on RICO.
If this is all they have for rebuttal, the Bank is in trouble.