For the past number of weeks, we’ve heard about how the U.S. wants BNP Paribas to plead guilty to violating U.S. sanctions against certain countries like Iran, and pay upwards of $10 billion to show they really mean it. We’ve also heard about how a lot of people in France– like its President, for one– are none too pleased about the idea of such a high fine, and are working hard (though mostly in vain) to get the number down. And while $10 billion does sound like a lot of money, a new report reveals that 1. It could’ve been a lot worse and 2. At this time, BNP might not wanna press its luck.

U.S. authorities negotiating with BNP Paribas over alleged sanctions violations at one point suggested that France’s biggest bank pay a penalty as high as $16 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Oh, but it gets better.

While the sources said that number was only proposed as a negotiating tactic in response to an offer from BNP of about $1 billion, the dollar figures being thrown around demonstrate what bankers and their allies say is an alarming trend of ever-increasing record penalties.

$1 billion! Say what you will about BNP, but you’ve got to admire les balls on these guys. Also, you’ve got to really want to be a fly on the wall when this conversation went down:

BNP: How about…$1 billion.
U.S.: How about…$16 billion.

So, a good showing by all, but at this point in the negotiations, BNP might want to quit while it’s ahead, before the next words out of U.S. prosecutors mouths are “How about $16 billion plus another $84 billion plus you’re banned from the country for 5 years? Does that work for you?”

Exclusive: As bank fines soar, U.S. threatened $16 billion BNP penalty [Reuters]

Earlier: Barack Obama About To Pull An “I’m Going Through A Tunnel, You’re Breaking Up” To Francois Hollande’s Face

13 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (13)

  1. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    To the Moon, Alice…

  2. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    BNP: How about…$1 billion.
    U.S.: How about…$16 billion.

    This too is how I negotiate with my 10 year old when he pisses me off

  3. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    They should also throw in a threat to expel Fabulous Fab from US too.

  4. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    $16Bn and we go back to calling them Freedom Fries.

  5. Posted by BNP HR | June 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    We are going to need more guillotines. Impending bloodbath at 787 over…..

  6. Posted by Quant me maybe... | June 6, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    I know the comments area are a place for humor, but I have a serious question. Say they fought it and lost and wound up getting a 5 year suspension in New York (or maybe the United States) after a 10 years of appeals or whatever, how would that be a death sentence? I mean, they are a global bank and sure the US is a large market, but it's not their only market.

    >Guy who doesn't understand this part of the banking industry. But doesn't think that they could make $12Billion in profits in the US over a 5 or 7 year period. I mean they're French for God's sakes.

  7. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    They're French. It's only a matter of time before they surrender.

  8. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    The death sentence the 10 year cost of litigating the appeals.

    >Guy who doesn't believe in tort reform.

  9. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    If the exported more goods to Sudan, North Korea and Iran, they could make it back it's just this time they'd have to be paid in Bitcoins.

  10. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Dollar clearing brah

  11. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    US Gov can control that privilege, even if they set up an account at Soc Gen.

  12. Posted by Guest | June 6, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    According to FT league tables, the Americas (which is essentially the US) accounted for 57% of all banking fees. If you are a global bank banned from the US, you are no longer a global bank….and at the very least your home market sure as hell better be a country with a larger economy and better growth prospects than France.

  13. Posted by Legal | June 8, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Mirikaia Singapore