December 13, 2019

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Norwegian People’s Aid fined $2 million by US for providing aid to terror organizations

From the US Justice Department last week:

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ann Calvaresi Barr, Inspector General for the U.S. Agency for International Development (“USAID”), announced today the filing and settlement of a civil fraud complaint against NORWEGIAN PEOPLE’S AID (“NPA”), a non-profit, non-governmental organization headquartered in Norway, that receives funding from USAID.  The settlement resolves claims that NPA violated the False Claims Act (the “FCA”) by providing material support to Iran, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP”), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“DFLP”), contrary to federal funding requirements.  At all times relevant to the lawsuit, Iran was included on the U.S. Department of State’s list of state sponsors of terrorism (the “State Sponsors of Terrorism List”), and Hamas, PFLP, and DFLP were included on the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s specially designated nationals and blocked persons list (the “SDN List”).  The State Sponsors of Terrorism List includes countries that have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, and the SDN List includes individuals and entities that support terrorism or otherwise engage in conduct antithetical to U.S. interests.

On March 30, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory H. Woods approved a settlement agreement that resolves the Government’s claims against NPA.  Under the settlement, NPA is required to pay $2.025 million to the United States (that amount is based on an analysis of NPA’s ability to pay a monetary settlement), and it has revised its internal policies to ensure that it complies with applicable U.S. sanctions laws and the terms of its USAID grants.  In addition, in connection with the settlement, NPA has admitted to and accepted responsibility for its conduct.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “For years, Norwegian People’s Aid obtained grant money from USAID by falsely representing that it had not provided, and would take reasonable steps to ensure that it did not knowingly provide, material support to prohibited parties under U.S. law.  With this settlement, NPA is being made to pay a significant financial penalty for its conduct, and importantly, has admitted to its conduct and agreed to put proper precautions in place to ensure that it does not happen again.”

The group that filed the complaint to begin with, the Zionist Advocacy Center, published this photo in the materials showing the NPA logo behind a Hamas spokesperson:

The lawyer behind the action, David Abrams, is a friend of EoZ. He was interviewed about this case by a Norwegian news site (autotranslated)

“We claimed, among other things, that Norwegian People’s Aid had received money from the Iranian state to assist with the development of Iran’s oil industry. In the United States, Iran is considered a terrorist state. Therefore, I am pleased that Norwegian People’s Aid in practice pays back money they have received from Iran.
“From my point of view, it is important that non-governmental organizations are committed to humanitarian work and expanding their caution in dealing with organizations such as Hamas and countries like Iran,” says Abrams.
He has previously won a case against the American University in Beirut.

Abrams also mentioned that he is involved in similar claims against the Carter Center and against another major humanitarian NGO.

Q: Norwegian People’s Aid is one of the largest aid organizations in Norway. The Carter Center is also a large organization. And now you’ll take another case against what you call a major international humanitarian organization. Are you not worried that your work will put obstacles in the way of international humanitarian work?
A:  No. All that organizations need to do is stop engaging with Hamas and other terrorist groups and stop interfering in the political side of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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