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Receivers of Sabena SA v. Deutsche Bank A.G.

New York Appellate Division
90 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d 19 (2016)


Facts

Sabena SA (plaintiff), a Belgian airline, repaired airplanes owned by Sudan Airways. On November 4, 1997, Sudan Airways originated an electronic funds transfer (EFT) to Sabena to pay for the repair work. The EFT was wired from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) to an intermediary bank in New York for eventual transmission to Sabena’s bank in Belgium. The New York intermediary bank’s successor in interest was Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (defendant). Deutsche Bank blocked NBAD’s payment order for the EFT pursuant to an executive order that required the blocking of all property and interests of the Sudanese government in the United States. In 2012, the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) granted Sabena a license that authorized Deutsche Bank to release the funds. Sabena contacted Deutsche Bank to discuss releasing the EFT, but Deutsche Bank released the funds back to NBAD. Sabena sued Deutsche Bank in New York state court, asserting that Deutsche Bank failed to meet its obligations to Sabena under Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), violated the OFAC license, and wrongfully converted Sabena’s property. Deutsche Bank moved to dismiss the complaint. The trial court denied Deutsche Bank’s motion to dismiss, and Deutsche Bank appealed to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Friedman, J.)

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