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BNP Paribas Would Really Like To Be Too Big To Prosecute Right Now

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Getting caught cozying up with the Cubans, Iranians and Libyans is going to be moreexpensive that BNP Paribas anticipated, what with the pendingindictment and all.

The French bank BNP Paribas warned on Wednesday that it might have to pay penalties higher than the $1.1 billion it had set aside for an investigation by the American authorities into whether it processed payments for countries facing United States sanctions, including Iran….

BNP addressed the matter and the financial risks in a statement on Wednesday: “The discussions that took place during the first quarter of 2014 concerning U.S. dollar payments involving countries subject to U.S. sanctions demonstrate that a high degree of uncertainty exists as to the nature and amount of penalties that the U.S. authorities could impose on the bank following completion of the ongoing process: there is the possibility that the amount of the fines could be far in excess of the amount of the provision.”

BNP Paribas SA is facing fines of about $2 billion as well as criminal charges for violating U.S. economic sanctions against several countries including Iran, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, part of an accelerating crackdown by American authorities that has caused upheaval among European banks….

If the government goes ahead with criminal charges against the parent of the Paris-based bank, it could lead to the first guilty plea by a bank in decades. Negotiations are continuing and a guilty plea isn't certain, said one of the people. Any deal could fall apart.

BNP Paribas Says U.S. Penalties May Top the $1.1 Billion It Set Aside [DealBook]
BNP Paribas Facing $2 Billion in Fines Over Sanctions Violations [WSJ]
Two Giant Banks, Seen as Immune, Become Targets [DealBook]
BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse May Face U.S. Criminal Cases [WSJ]