On November 17, 2015 we filed a lawsuit against BNP Paribas S.A. and Al Shamal Islamic Bank in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging conspiring with and providing financing and material support to Al Qaeda and the Republic of Sudan in their perpetration of the deadly bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.
BNPP is a French multinational bank, incorporated under the laws of France with branches in the United States. It is one of the five largest banks in the world as measured by total assets. On July 9, 2014, BNPP pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to knowingly and willfully providing, distributing and administering financial benefits, money and financial services to designated state sponsors of terrorism, including Sudan, and specially designated nationals (“SDN”). (United States v. BNP Paribas, S.A, Case No. 14-cr-00460 (S.D.N.Y. July 9, 2014)).
From at least November 1997 through 2012 BNP Paribas, S.A. (“BNPP”), the Republic of Sudan (“Sudan”), the Central Bank of Sudan, other Sudanese financial institutions, including Al Shamal Islamic Bank (“Al Shamal”), and Al Qaeda, conspired with each other and others to defeat the economic sanctions imposed by Executive Order of the President of the United States and administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which were designed to deter, disrupt, and defeat acts of international terrorism.
By its own admission in connection with its criminal plea in federal court in New York in 2014, BNPP commenced a fraudulent scheme and conspiracy with Sudan a couple of weeks after President Clinton imposed financial sanctions on Sudan, in November 1997 – corresponding precisely with the period during which Sudan was supporting and facilitating Al Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998 (the “1998 East African Embassy Attacks”). As stated by the United States Government at BNP Paribas’ criminal sentencing, “without BNP acting effectively as its US central banker, [the government of Sudan and entities tied to the government of Sudan] would not have had access to the US dollar markets.”
Al Shamal Islamic Bank is a Sudanese bank established in Khartoum, Sudan. Al Shamal started operations on January 2, 1990, in part with a capital contribution of at least $50 million by Osama bin Laden. Al Shamal knowingly and intentionally provided financial services to Al Qaeda including maintaining and servicing Al Qaeda bank accounts.
At a 2001 Congressional hearing, Senator Carl Levin noted that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda operatives used Al Shamal in the years leading to the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Hon. Judge John D. Bates found in connection with the civil litigation against Sudan regarding the East African Embassy bombings that “Al Shamal Islamic Bank is the quintessential example of how the Sudanese government cooperated with Bin Laden and provided the organization with logistical help during its five years in Sudan… This access to the formal banking system was useful for ‘laundering money and facilitating other financial transactions that stabilized and ultimately enlarged bin Laden’s presence in the Sudan.’ For example, Bin Laden invested $50 million in the Sudan’s Al Shamal Islamic Bank, and these funds were used to finance Al Qaeda operations. Al Shamal Islamic Bank was known for financing terrorist operations, and bin Laden remained a leading investor of the bank long after he was expelled from the Sudan.” Owens v. Republic of Sudan, 826 F. Supp. 2d 123, 146 (D.D.C. 2014).