Largest French bank on defensive for alleged antisemitism

BNP Paribas also accused of violating anti-terrorism law, Iran sanctions.

July 11, 2017 18:11
2 minute read.
Head offices of the former CNEP bank, now BNP-Paribas

Head offices of the former CNEP bank, now BNP-Paribas.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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France’s largest bank was on the defensive on Tuesday when an Israeli sued BNP Paribas for alleged antisemitism and for contractual deception regarding its violation of global anti-terrorism laws and sanctions against Iran.

Already on May 10, Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud), along with MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) and terrorism victims support group Almagor sent a letter to State Attorney Shai Nitzan asking him to open a broad criminal investigation against BNP for its alleged terrorism financing activities.

Nitzan responded that he will meet with the MKs about the issue.

Ruth Agam’s lawsuit, heard on Tuesday in the Tel Aviv District Court, accuses BNP of making her a victim of the bank’s misconduct, including criminal activity such as forgery and fraud regarding its antisemitic terrorism financing and Iran sanctions violating activities.

In May 2015, BNP paid an $8.9 billion fine to the US due to its terrorism-financing and activities violating Iran and Sudan international sanctions.

Agam is an employee of Israel Aerospace Industries with special responsibilities of caution regarding whom she does business with, and said she would never have signed for a loan from BNP had she known of its illegal activities, which it covered up.

According to the suit, Agam signed for a loan from BNP regarding certain properties in France.

However, Agam accused BNP of manipulating her by having her sign signature pages and then using those pages for other unauthorized documents or forged documents that ultimately compromised her assets.

Further, the lawsuit alleges “serious antisemitic behavior by the bank and its employees, and refers to BNP’s recent reported $40 million settlement with a Jewish employee who raised concerns about training materials which featured antisemitic content.”

In her lawsuit, Agam also asserts a series of examples “relating to BNP’s worldwide misconduct against the Jewish people in general, and against the State of Israel.”

Adam Levitt of US firm DiCello Levitt & Casey, who represents the Agam family, said: “My client’s lawsuit is against an organization that demonstrates a broader pattern of BNP’s global unlawfulness...which finds BNP siding with and supporting terrorist movements and hate groups.”

The groups and countries “promote the eradication” of the US and Israel, said Levitt.

Dr. Yossi Cohen, a lawyer for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cases and Agam’s Israeli counsel, said, “In my many years of experience, this case stands out due to its allegations of the extraordinary crimes and injustices BNP committed.”

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