BNP Paribas’ CEO and chairman have been ordered to appear before a Maltese court in a €1 billion lawsuit cases over allegations of involvement with a highly controversial deal which could involve serious ethical, legal, and professional violations.
The case involves a €1 billion lawsuit filed by multi-millionaire Jacob Agam who accused BNP Paribas, one of the world’s largest banks, of anti-semitism and criminal acts, claiming that hundreds of millions of euro of Malta-based company Vertical Group were compromised by the bank’s action. He says the bank has admitted involvement in multiple criminal activities, including money-laundering for pariah regimes.
However, it could extend far further. BNP Paribas was also a part-financier of the notorious ElectroGas deal, the operator of the LNG power station with major links to the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination. Chairman Jean Lemierre and CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé are expected to face questions over the issue.
Agam alleges he was targeted by the bank after raising concerns publicly and privately about its role in a number of controversies. These included a 2014 criminal conviction imposed on BNP by the US Government for unlawfully processing transactions worth billions of dollars for sanctioned regimes linked to terrorism and genocide.
According to the lawsuit, the bank targeted Agam by abruptly terminating his companies’ investment facilities without justification and attempting to seize family properties. It is also alleged Lafarge-Sarkozy used anti-semitic language, referring to Jews as “ces gens-là” (“these people”, a highly derogatory phrase in the French language) and “parasites”.
The bank’s CEO and chairman, despite receiving many personal requests to intervene, failed to prevent the alleged destructive smear campaign against the claimants, according to the legal claim. It is also alleged that the CEO did not respond to a formal letter from members of Israel’s parliament, expressing concerns about the case.
The bank denies all claims.
Lemierre and Bonnafé have opposed the summons. The bank has previously insisted that Vertical Group’s. case should not be heard in Malta, claiming it has no business year. However, Agam pointed to the ElectroGas financing to rubbish their claim.
“I hope these hearings will bring to an end the bank’s lengthy efforts to shield itself and its management from questions they will deservedly find very unpleasant and difficult. Dealing with BNP has been a far more unpleasant and difficult experience for me, my family and my business. My claim is that the bank’s actions against me were partly motivated by racial bigotry and antisemitism. This has been especially hard to live with given BNP’s admitted criminal and unethical behaviour in the recent past.”
“BNP is, quite literally, a scandalous organisation. Bonnafé and Lemierre have presided over those scandals. So it is shocking they have never been held personally responsible for the bank’s misconduct – even when the bank settled a lawsuit over alleged antisemitism or was fined billions of dollars for financial transactions that assisted terrorism and genocide.”
“Neither the bank nor its leaders should be allowed to escape the consequences of this horrendous conduct. Now, at last, the corporate veil has been drawn back. For the first time, the CEO and chairman will be put under the spotlight, required to explain BNP’s controversial involvement in Malta, and to justify its previous claim that it did no business there. Its business in Malta is nothing to be proud of, to judge from its partnership with ElectroGas,” Agam said.
Hearings are scheduled to begin at 11am on 3rd November.
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