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NGOs file lawsuit in France against BNP Paribas over alleged complicity in genocide in Rwanda


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5 July 2017

BNP Paribas faces accusations over the Rwandan genocide

Author: The Economist

BNP Paribas, France’s biggest bank, pleaded guilty in America three years ago to assisting a monstrous regime in east Africa. In 2006, it had helped to finance Sudan’s government, which in turn supported militias that massacred tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur. The firm thereby abetted in genocide and circumvented American sanctions on Sudan. It agreed to pay a fine of $9bn for breaking that embargo, as well as ones on Cuba and Iran. The bank, naturally, hopes to put that grim episode behind it. These days it makes much of its social-responsibility efforts. Its 2015 annual report, for example, trumpeted the financing of a big supermarket in Côte d’Ivoire as typical of its contribution to African development. On July 3rd it named a new head of compliance plus a new “company engagement department”, responsible, among other things, for setting strategy on human rights. Yet the past is hard to banish. The bank now faces scrutiny over an even uglier episode. On June 29th three human-rights groups in France submitted a complaint to a judge, accusing BNP of war crimes and complicity in genocide in Rwanda, in 1994, when 800,000 people, mostly members of the Tutsi minority, were massacred. The groups say that they can prove BNP transferred funds to finance a weapons deal, breaking a UN arms embargo and equipping the killers. The bank has said only that it does not have enough information about the complaint....


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29 June 2017

NGOs File Suit Alleging BNP Paribas Complicity in Rwandan Genocide

Author: Reuters

Three non-government organisations (NGOs) have filed a lawsuit in Paris against the French bank BNP Paribas, alleging that it knowingly approved a transfer of $1.3 million from the Rwandan central bank to an arms dealer during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

More than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during a three-month killing spree by Hutu extremists...

[The NGOs] said on Thursday that their suit accused BNP Paribas of complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They said a U.N. arms embargo on Rwanda had been in effect at the time of the transfer.

...BNP Paribas said: "We have learned about the suit through the media. At the moment, we do not have sufficient information on the subject to be able to comment on it."

Rwandan central bank governor John Rwangombwa told Reuters in a Whatsapp message that he had no comment on the matter...

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29 June 2017

Press pack

Author: Sherpa, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) & Ibuka France

[This press pack explains the facts & legal basis for the legal proceedings against BNP Paribas]

Download the full document here

29 June 2017

Rwandan Genocide: Sherpa, the CPCR and Ibuka France launched a complaint against BNP Paribas on the basis of complicity in a genocide, in crimes against humanity and in war crimes

Author: Sherpa, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) & Ibuka France

The associations Sherpa, the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) and Ibuka France launched a complaint against BNP Paribas on the basis of complicity in genocide, in crime against humanity and in war crimes. The bank would have agreed to transfer in June 1994, one month after the UN had voted an arms' embargo and during the genocide, 1.3 million dollars from an account of its client, the National Rwandan Bank (BNR in French) to the Swiss account of an arms' South African dealer, Mr Ehlers.

Mr. Ehlers would have then gone to the Seychelles with a Hutu colonel Mr Théoneste Bagosora to agree upon the sale of eighty tons of arms, on June 17th, which would then have been transported to Gisenyi (Rwanda) via Goma (Zaire)...to “give a hand to Kigali”...

...[T]he proceeding would prove that the BNP knew necessarily the destination of the funds and knew it could contribute to the ongoing genocide.

This is the first time such a complaint is initiated against a bank in France on such a legal basis. If the facts were to be proven, it would highlight the potential responsibility of investors in armed conflicts and more generally in serious violation of human rights. “The duty of care as adopted on the 21st of February 2017, as applied to financial institutions, should prevent their implication in such violations” declares Sandra Cossart, Program Director at Sherpa.

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