BNP Paribas to Face Human Rights Claims Over Sudan Work

BNP Paribas will have to defend itself against a U.S. lawsuit claiming the bank facilitated human rights abuses in the Sudan, after a New York federal judge rejected parts of its request to dismiss the case.

The suit claims BNP’s decision to continue serving as Sudan’s banker in the 1990s and 2000s in the face of global condemnation enabled the then-regime to remain in place, during which civil war and ethnic cleansing campaigns lead to the abuse and death of hundreds of thousands of people. BNP pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions policy on Sudan, Iran and Cuba in 2014.

Judge Alison Nathan of U.S. District Court in Manhattan allowed the putative class action on behalf of regime victims to proceed with claims for battery, assault, false arrest and imprisonment and wrongful death. She dismissed others alleging negligence and emotional distress.

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment on Nathan’s ruling.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2016, and the judge previously granted the bank’s request to dismiss the case. But the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and reinstated the lawsuit.

In the new ruling, Nathan concluded the victims had made a sufficient showing that BNP was aware of the atrocities being carried out by Sudan’s government and continued providing it with access to the global financial system anyway, taking steps to conceal it in the process. In helping the regime sell oil on global markets, the bank had a role in helping Sudan fund a military that was engaged in a campaign of human rights abuses, the judge ruled.

“BNPP allegedly knew or should have known not just that the profits it was helping generate would go towards genocide, but that it was able to generate those profits for the regime (taking a cut for itself) in part because of genocide,” Nathan said.

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