Family of flight MH17 victim files a lawsuit in the United States against Russian Sberbank and VTB

On Thursday, April 4, the relatives of one of the passengers who died on flight MH17 filed a lawsuit in New York City against Sberbank, VTB, and also Western Union and MoneyGram. The family of 18-year-old American Quinn Lucas Schansman accuses them of providing financial services to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). “We realize that we will never get our son back. But we intend to shed light on all those who participated in his murder and bring them to justice,” said the victim’s father, Thomas Schansman.

“The DPR systematically and openly requested financial support from people all over the world in order to obtain weapons and ammunition,” said David Pressman, a lawyer representing the interests of the plaintiffs. He claims that the funds were received by the pro-Russian militants "with the assistance of US-based financial companies, as well as Russian banks." Pressman was Deputy to the US Permanent Representative to the UN from 2014 to 2016. 

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014 over separatist-held territory of the Donetsk region. All 298 people on board were killed. Passengers of the flight included citizens of 10 countries. The majority of the victims (196 people) were citizens of the Netherlands.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT)—which includes representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine—has carried out criminal investigation of the tragedy. The countries participating in the investigation have agreed not to create a separate tribunal, and decided that those responsible would be brought before the Dutch court.

On May 24, 2018, the JIT presented additional evidence of Russia’s crucial role in the tragic air disaster. The JIT concluded that the Buk ground-to-air missile system that shot down the passenger airplane was in service of the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk.

On May 25, the Dutch government took steps to hold Russia accountable for the crash of flight MH17, a process which will be managed separately from prosecuting the perpetrators.

Australia stated it will seek payment of compensation from Russia to the families of the MH17 crash victims.

The President of Ukraine instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to immediately submit proposals on joining the Netherlands-Australia-initiated case against Russia at the interstate level in connection with this air disaster.

  MH17, Netherlands, USA, VTB Bank, Russia