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BNP Paribas bank accused of complicity in Sudan rights abuses

The French complaint said that the US Department of Justice had described BNP Paribas as Sudan’s de facto central bank because it gave the Sudanese government access to international money markets, and allowed it to pay staff, the military and security forces.

Victims of rights abuses in Sudan have filed a legal complaint against the French BNP Paribas bank and its Swiss subsidiary, accusing them of complicity in crimes against humanity, genocide and torture allegedly committed in Darfur between 2002 and 2008.

Nine Sudanese people were named in the complaint filed with investigative judges in Paris, says a statementexternal link by the International Federation for Human Rights, which backs the action.

“This complaint marks the first attempt to hold the French bank criminally responsible for alleged complicity in international crimes committed in Sudan, and Darfur in particular,” it said.

A spokesperson for the bank said it was not aware of the opening of any criminal probe and did not comment on judicial processes.

Between 2002 and 2008, BNP Paribas was considered to be Sudan’s “de facto central bank”, the human rights federation said.

During this period, Sudanese forces were waging a campaign of violence in Sudan’s Darfur region that the International Criminal Court in The Hague has since characterized as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“From 2002 to 2008, the Sudanese government – through its military and security forces and Janjaweed militias – committed widespread human rights violations that led to the death of more than 300,000 Sudanese civilians,” the statement said. The Darfur region has been torn by years of conflict that erupted in 2003. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Investigating magistrates in Paris will now determine if the complaint is admissible and if an investigation should be opened.

In 2014, BNP agreed to pay an $8.97 billion penalty to settle US charges it transferred billions of dollars for Sudanese, Iranian and Cuban entities subject to economic sanctions.

At the time, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) stated that the Swiss branch of BNP Paribas “repeatedly and seriously violated its duty to identify, limit and monitor the inherent risks, subsequently breaching supervisory provisions”.

In a similar case, twenty-one refugees from Sudan now living in the United States filed a class action against BNP Paribas in 2016.

Full story here
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