Former BNP Paribas Israel country head Charles Reisman is suing the bank for NIS 19.8 million, claiming that BNP Paribas SA (Euronext: BNP) closed its Israeli branch under pressure from Arab countries, turning the branch into a representative office in late 2011.
In the statement of claim filed with the Tel Aviv District Labor Court, Reisman contends, "The reason for closing the branch was Arab pressure applied on the management in Europe. This pressure was partly because of long-term transactions carried out by the bank in Iran." The statement of claim attached an article by "The Wall Street Journal" from September 2011 about the Iranian connections of European banks, including France's BNP Paribas, with Iran.
Reisman says that the Arab pressure came as BNP Paribas was suffering from liquidity problems and was seeking to raise capital in Arab and other countries. "The announcement of the closing of the Israeli office was cheered by Arab League member states, which claimed credit for the closing and chalked up a success for the Arab boycott," he says.
Reisman says that BNP Paribas Israel made a profit of NIS 875 million in its 15 years of operation.
BNP Paribas says in response, "The closing of the Israeli branch had no connection with pressure from the Arab world, evidence of which is that the bank is still active in Israel, and works with Israeli customers."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 10, 2013
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