BNP Paribas to pay $8.8bn fine over US sanctions

Monday 30 June 2014 21.54
BNP Paribas is alleged to have facilitated transfers that violated some US sanctions
BNP Paribas is alleged to have facilitated transfers that violated some US sanctions

BNP Paribas has pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to pay $8.83 billion in a broad agreement with US authorities over charges the French bank violated US sanctions laws.

A lawyer for BNP briefly appeared in New York state court and pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying business records and one count of conspiracy.

Assistant District Attorney Ted Starishevsky said the bank engaged in a "long-term, multi-jurisdictional conspiracy" to violate sanctions laws by facilitating transactions involving Sudan, Cuba, and Iran.

"This conduct, this conspiracy was known and condoned at the highest levels of BNP," Starishevsky said.

The bank's general counsel, Georges Dirani, told the judge that BNP took steps to evade sanctions between 2004 and 2012 that the United States imposed on Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

US authorities have been examining whether BNP Paribas evaded US sanctions, in part by stripping identifying information from wire transfers so they could pass through the US financial system without raising red flags.

BNP Paribas is also likely to be suspended from making dollar payments on behalf of clients in some businesses for as long as a year, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters, an untested and potentially severe penalty for the French bank.

The New York State Department of Financial Services, headed by Benjamin Lawsky, had proposed the ban as one condition for not revoking BNP's license to operate in New York.