Belgium To Ask BNP Paribas, “What Were You Thinking?”


In stark contrast to France’s overprotective how-dare-you-accuse-my-child-of-that attitude towards BNP Paribas, Belgium at least entertains the notion that it might have done something wrong and plans to subject their shared progeny to a stern talking-to.

Belgium's Finance Minister Koen Geens expressed concern about the gravity of the charges against BNP Paribas and has asked the bank's CEO, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, to come and meet him soon in Brussels, according to a statement issued by the ministry on Tuesday.

Mr. Geens "wishes to get a precise understanding of what lessons management and all the responsible parties will learn from what has happened, including matters regarding shareholder transparency," the ministry said….

The Belgian government's request highlights the pressure on the French bank and its management to explain how it plans to turn the page on what Mr. Bonnafé himself has described as a "difficult situation." The settlement with U.S. authorities has marked an abrupt fall from grace for a bank, which until now had largely dodged the scandals that gave the industry a bad name, such as the U.S. mortgage crisis or the Libor interest-rate rigging.

The country ended up with a stake in the French lender in 2009 when BNP Paribas bought Belgian bank Fortis, which had been bailed out by the Belgian government.

Belgium Calls on BNP to Share Lessons Learned from $9 Billion Fine [WSJ]