BNP Paribas’ Chairman and CEO could attempt skipping out on a scheduled Maltese court hearing in a €1 billion lawsuit over fears they could be interrogated in relation to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the Electrogas project they financed, the claimant in the case has said.
“It is by now beyond speculation to conclude that the chairman and CEO have recognised that if they step on Maltese soil they may also ignite and trigger the interest of other judiciary and investigative bodies who are trusted by the public to bring to justice all persons involved directly or indirectly in the assassination of Daphne Galizia,” Vertical Group owner Jacob Agam told Lovin Malta.
BNP Paribas Chairman Jean Lemierre and CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé are set to appear in a lawsuit filed by multi-millionaire Jacob Agam, who has accused BNP Paribas, one of the world’s largest banks, of anti-semitism and criminal acts.
Agam and his Maltese company Vertical Group Holding Ltd claim transactions involving hundreds of millions of euro were compromised by the bank’s illicit and malicious actions.
He says the bank has admitted involvement in multiple criminal activities, including money laundering for pariah regimes and transacting with terrorist sponsored states.
The next hearing is scheduled for 4th February, where Judge Joseph Zammit Mckeon is set to announce a date for the two men to appear in court. However, Agam is raising concerns that it could be derailed. The two men were initially scheduled to appear in November, but legal wrangling has delayed the hearing.
“Fortunately, and unlike in other jurisdictions, this time the bank’s long and brutal arm is too short to dent or affect the integrity and the resolve of the Maltese court and potentially, the relevant Maltese authorities.”
“Considering BNP Paribas’ horrendous, historical criminal convictions ranging from financing genocide to financing state and organisation sponsored terrorism, it is not surprising that BNP Paribas, its chairman and CEO have no regard to the Maltese court and the rule of law,” he said.
Lawyers of the chairman and CEO have fought tooth and nail to ensure that the men do not testify. They have already tried to appeal a court order for the men to appear, which was shot down Zammit Mckeon.
Irrespective of the court’s position, BNP Paribas recently continued its lack of adherence to the warrant issued and last month (December 2020), it refiled additional motions and again requested the Judge to reverse his decision and to allow the bank to appeal his decision despite the fact that such ruling is not appealable.
During the previous court hearings, BNP Paribas and its CEO and Chairman, as joint defendants in the case, consistently maintained that it has not and had not any business activities in Malta.
However, Agam surprisingly unveiled a range of business activities between BNP Paribas and Maltese businesses and corporations, in particular its direct involvement in the ElectroGas deal. Matthew Caruana Galizia has said that the deal was the motive behind the assassination.
Agam also accused Bonnafé and Lemierre of being directly involved with the bank’s misconduct against Maltese assets and individuals as well as with its knowledge or involvement in the ElectroGas corrupt transaction as a demonstration of the bank’s misrepresentation to the court, and its continued pattern of alleged criminal misconduct, this time, in Malta.
According to sources, the constant refusal of the Chairman and CEO to adhere to the warrants issued stems from fears that they may face additional demands for interrogations concerning their respective alleged misconducts against Maltese assets and individuals, in particular their respective alleged involvements in the corrupt transaction with ElectroGas.
Legal experts said that the court ruling expected by 4th February is nothing short of another revalidation of the court ruling in August 2020 for BNP Paribas, its CEO and chairman to adhere to the warrant issued to appear in front of the court.
In his comments on the case, Dr Pio Valletta, the lawyer representing Vertical Group Holding Ltd, said:
“In my many years of practising law, I have not witnessed a case in which an unappealable ruling by a Judge is being rechallenged over and over in front of the very Judge who ruled on the issue.
“It appears that the Bank, its Chairman and CEO have plenty to hide from the court and the Maltese Public which under the circumstances has demonstrated a great deal of interest in this case. They continue to challenge the sovereignty and integrity of our judicial system. If they have nothing to hide, why not to appear in court as required under the law and help the court to delve into the truth.”
What do you think of the case? Comment below