From 2002 to 2008, BNPP was the primary foreign bank of the Sudanese government. During this time, Sudanese government forces and its militia called the Janjaweed were engaged in an armed conflict with rebel groups. They systematically targeted civilians belonging to the same non-Arab ethnic groups as the rebels (particularly the Masalit, Fur and Zaghawa), in Darfur and other areas. Government forces and allied militia killed, tortured, detained, forcibly displaced, raped and assaulted tens of thousands of civilians.
These crimes, said to amount to genocide and crimes against humanity, were allegedly facilitated by BNPP through its provision of credit facilities, access to foreign financial markets and petrol exports to the Sudanese government. This alleged responsibility is compounded by the fact that Sudan was subject to sanctions from the United Nations, the European Union and individual States, increasing the government’s reliance on the services provided by BNPP.
On 26 September 2019, nine Sudanese victims, supported by the International Federation for Human Rights and Project Expedite Justice, filed a criminal complaint against BNPP before the investigative judges of the Paris Tribunal. The complaint alleges that by providing banking services to the Sudanese government while Sudan was subject to international sanctions for committing crimes against its civilians, the bank and its senior staff became complicit in these crimes.
On 26 August 2020, a judicial investigation was opened into BNPP’s alleged role in mass atrocities in Sudan before the French Anti-terrorist Prosecution Office.
In 2021, the investigative judges summoned the Sudanese victims admitted as civil parties in the case for a hearing.