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District Judge Ruling Allows Pro Bono Client Chabad to Pursue Russian Assets

November 6, 2020PDF

A ruling on Friday, November 6, 2020, by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth is significant for Rothwell Figg pro bono client Agudas Chasidei Chabad of United States ("Chabad") in its ongoing battle with the Russian Federation over the Schneerson archive and library, which was seized by the Nazis and is held illegally by Russia.

The recent ruling allows Chabad to identify and seize financial assets of the Russian government held in the United States in order to pay the sanctions for refusing to return the books. In 2010, Judge Lamberth ordered the Russian Federation to return the texts, but Russia has failed to do so. In 2013, the Court found the Russian Federation in contempt, and imposed sanctions of $50,000 per day payable to Chabad. 

“For years, Chabad has been seeking to identify assets belonging to the Russian Federation for the purpose of returning the stolen Chabad collection,” Steven Lieberman, Rothwell Figg's lead attorney representing Chabad, told COLlive.com on Friday, November 6, 2020.

“Today’s decision, a brilliant one by Judge Lamberth, rejected another attempt by a company called Tenam, a Russian controlled uranium and nuclear power enterprise, to delay providing Chabad with the information,” he said.

Mr. Lieberman said that thanks to this decisive ruling “Chabad will be able to get the information it needs to identify and ultimately seize Russian assets. This ruling brings us one step closer to obtaining the return of the Chabad collection.”

“Freeing these books and returning them to their rightful owners is an important cause to the Jewish people,” Mr. Lieberman noted. “It is an obligation like freeing a captive person. These books contain the souls of the Rebbes whose works are reflected in them.”

The recent ruling was covered in an article on COLLive.com titled "Judge Allows Chabad to Pursue Russian Assets Until Books Are Freed.

You can learn more about the case and Rothwell Figg's efforts in the following articles: Court Issues $43 Million Sanction Order Against Russian Federation in Favor of Rothwell Figg Client (September 10, 2015); Partner Steven Lieberman Quoted in BuzzFeed News Article On Jewish Texts Seized by Russia (October 11, 2017); Rothwell Figg Helps Secure Return of Chabad’s Sacred Text, a Milestone in Decades-Long Litigation between Chabad and the Russian Federation (October 31, 2017); and Rothwell Figg Attorneys Celebrate Return of Sacred Text with Government Officials (November 9, 2017); Rothwell Figg Team Appears in District Court on Behalf of Pro Bono Client Chabad in Ongoing Battle Against Russian Federation (December 3, 2019); and Chabad Prevails in District Court Rulings, Sanctions Against Russia Top $120 Million (December 20, 2019). 

Chabad is represented pro bono by Steven Lieberman, Robert Parker, Jennifer Nock, Dan McCallum, and Richard Waterman of Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, P.C., and Nathan Lewin and Alyza Lewin of Lewin & Lewin, LLP. The case is Agudas Chasidei Chabad of United States v. Russian Federation, et al., No. 05-cv-1548.