BNP Paribas invests billions in arms suppliers to Israel

European banks have invested 60 billion euros in companies that sell arms and military equipment to Israel, and BNP Paribas takes the crown, De Standaard writes on Thursday.

The investments were analysed in a report by Belgian NGOs 11.11.11 and FairFin. Between January 2021 and August 2023, BNP Paribas invested around 5.7 billion euros in companies that supply weapons and military equipment to the Israeli army, the most of any bank analysed.

BNP has invested in defence companies such as Leonardo and RTX, as well as companies such as Boeing and Rolls-Royce. The latter two are not only active in the civil aviation and automotive industries but also produce military vehicles used in Gaza.

The Belgian state owns about 5 per cent of BNP Paribas, making it one of the largest shareholders in the French bank. The NGOs 11.11.11 and FairFin want the state to use its weight as a shareholder to stop the investments.

Belgian Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem denies that Belgium can do much to change BNP Paribas' practices. The board members who represent Belgium are independent, so the state cannot give them orders. But Van Peteghem can make Belgium's position clear, which his cabinet says it has done on several occasions. 

Commenting on the report, BNP Paribas said it "always complies with laws, rules and conventions" and stressed "its commitment to human rights". The bank's Belgian branch declined to comment. 



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