French prosecutors have launched an investigation by banking giant BNP Paribas into allegations of complicity in crimes against humanity, genocide and torture in Sudan, sources said on Thursday.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which had lodged a complaint against the French bank, announced on Twitter that an investigation had been launched, confirming information to AFP from a legal source.
Almost a year ago, nine Sudanese victims backed by rights groups, including FIDH, filed a criminal complaint against BNP Paribas for allegedly facilitating crimes committed in Sudan between 2002 and 2008, particularly in the war-torn western region of Darfur.
It was considered the regime’s “de facto central bank” at the time despite international sanctions, FIDH said.
The legal source said the investigation was launched on August 26 on “complicity in crimes against humanity, genocide and torture and barbarism.”
FIDH said last year that the 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.”
Sudanese authorities and leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups, agreed on a historic peace deal on August 31 in Juba with the aim of ending nearly two decades of conflict.
The UN estimates that 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since 2003.
In 2014, BNP Paribas pleaded guilty in the United States to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against the governments of Sudan, Iran and Cuba and accepted a $ 8.9 billion fine.
It was found guilty of “deepening lengths to conceal prohibited transactions, cover its tracks and defraud U.S. authorities,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Illegal payments “were made on behalf of sanctioned entities in Sudan, which were subject to US embargo based on the role of the Sudanese government in facilitating terrorism and human rights violations,” it said.
FIDH said Sudanese victims did not receive any compensation from this solution.
“Behind the most heinous crimes and human rights violations, there is always money,” said the federal honorary president Patrick Baudouin last year.
“By giving the Sudanese regime access to international money markets, the BNPP allowed the government to function, pay its staff, military and security forces, make purchases abroad, all the while Sudan was a pariah on the international stage of planning and committing crimes in Darfur,” he added.
A criminal complaint has also been lodged against GDP for alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide of Rwanda’s Tutsi minorities.