French Bank to Face Lawsuit Over Alleged Assistance in Sudan Genocide

A US judge has ruled that BNP Paribas, a French bank, is to face a lawsuit for allegedly assisting Sudan’s previous dictatorship in carrying out the Darfur Genocide, as well as other abuses in Sudan and South Sudan.

Violations and Complicity

US Manhattan District Judge, Alvin Hellerstein, has ruled that BNP Paribas must face a lawsuit after he found “too many facts” demonstrating a relationship between the financing of BNP, and the human rights abuses perpetrated by the former Sudanese administration of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

The lawsuit is a class action lawsuit, originally filed in 2016, that has been brought against BNP by refugees living in the US that had fled Darfur, South Sudan, and areas of central Sudan. Al-Bashir’s government carried out routine abuses in each of these three areas, including most prominently in Darfur, where the actions of al-Bashir’s government have been referred to as genocide by the US on many different occasions. In some aspects, the Darfur genocide is still ongoing, however not under al-Bashir’s regime, as he was deposed in 2019.

The lawsuit accuses BNP of helping the government to commit the genocide by financing them between 1997 and 2011, in direct violation of US sanctions.

It is worth noting that the judge’s ruling does not establish BNP’s complicity in any abuses, the causing of any abuses, or whether they could have foreseen that such abuses would be committed, but rather only orders that the lawsuit go ahead.

BNP has not commented on the US judge’s ruling.

Not the First Time

This present lawsuit is not the first time that BNP has faced repercussions for violating US sanctions.

In 2014, after a several year long investigation, BNP pleaded guilty in a New York state court to conspiracy, falsifying business records, as well as money-laundering.

The charges largely stemmed from the upwards of 100 billion USD that BNP had laundered for Iran, Cuba, and Sudan, three nations that were under US sanctions at the time. BNP’s operations allowed these three nations access to the US banking system, allowing them a path to circumvent certain aspects of the sanctions.

After pleading guilty, the US Department of Justice stuck BNP with an 8.97 billion dollar fine, which is the largest ever fine to have been instated for a violation of US sanctions. The fine was heightened to the level it was due to BNP’s lack of cooperation in the investigation, as well as the fact that they continued to process transactions with sanctioned entities after the investigation had begun.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.

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