Preet Bharara & co. are super pissed at BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse. Guilty-plea-to-criminal-charges pissed. But the banks can’t go back in time and not blithely do business with the Axis of Evil-plus, or help Americans minimize the size of that last number on their 1040s, respectively. And until they get their hands on a time machine allowing them to do a better job of covering up those (alleged!) crimes, they’ll resort to a strategy that’s actually available to them: begging.
To avoid the fallout from pleading guilty — no giant bank has done so in more than two decades — BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse made last-ditch appeals to prosecutors and regulators in recent weeks, according to people briefed on the talks….
While BNP and Credit Suisse proposed more modest guilty pleas from their subsidiaries rather than parent companies, the people briefed on the talks said, prosecutors appeared to balk at those overtures, challenging broader public concerns that banks have grown so important to the economy that they are effectively “too big to jail….”
BNP made its own appeals. Underscoring the gravity of a guilty plea for the bank, BNP’s chief executive and two of his top lieutenants traveled to Washington and New York to make their case last week, the people said….
The crucial meeting occurred two days earlier in Washington, the people said, on Tuesday afternoon at the Justice Department’s headquarters. It was there that the executives outlined concerns about a guilty plea to the three prosecutors leading the case: David A. O’Neil, head of the department’s criminal division; Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan; and Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney….
The pitch was simple. The executives and lawyers warned that a guilty plea could wreak havoc on BNP and the broader economy well beyond France’s borders.