The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) announced Thursday via twitter that French prosecutors had opened a formal investigation of BNP Paribas over its alleged complicity in crimes against humanity, genocide and torture in Sudan.
The decision to investigate banking giant BNP Paribas comes nearly a year after nine sudanese victims filed a complaint, with the help of the FIDH and Project Expedite Justice, against BNP Paribas for its involvement in the atrocities committed in Sudan between 2002 and 2008.
In their complaint, the nine victims alleged that BNP Paribas and its Swiss subsidiary served as the “de facto” bank for the Sudanese government at a time when the government committed massive human rights violations, including torture and genocide, against members of the Masalit, Fur and Zaghawa tribes (the non-Arab tribes) of Sudan.
They argued that, by virtue of its status as “de facto” bank for the Sudanese government at the time, BNP Paribas became complicit in the crimes the government committed.
They also alleged that the bank engaged in money laundering on behalf of the Sudanese government.
Although the 2019 complaint was the first attempt to hold BNP Paribas criminally responsible for its alleged complicity, it was not the first time the bank had to answer for its involvement with the Sudanese government.
In 2016 21 sudanese refugees successfully sued the bank in a US court for processing thousands of illegal transactions that financed weapon purchases for the Sudanese government and funded a militia. And in 2014 BNP Paribas pleaded guilty to helping clients from Iran, Sudan and Cuba dodge US economic sanctions and had to pay $8.5 billion in penalties.