The US is seeking more than $10 billion from French bank BNP Paribas
Washington - AFP
The US is seeking more than $10 billion from French bank BNP Paribas to settle charges it violated US sanctions on Iran, Sudan and Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Citing people familiar with the negotiations between the bank and the Justice Department, the newspaper said the two sides are still locked in talks, and that BNP wants to pay less than $8 billion.
Both numbers are far higher than earlier reports of less than $4 billion, and would far outpace the $1.9 billion British bank HSBC was fined in 2012 for routinely handling money transfers for countries under sanction and for Mexican drug traffickers.
The Journal said a final resolution of the BNP case, which related to the bank's activity in 2002-2009, is "likely weeks away."
It said the two sides are still arguing over whether the bank, as part of its punishment, will be temporarily denied the right to transfer money into and out from the United States, an important part of any foreign bank's business in the US.
The report said Justice Department prosecutors continue to press the bank to plead guilty to the charges, which theoretically could risk its US banking license.
But in a separate case last week involving a bank helping thousands of Americans avoid taxes, Switzerland's Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to one felony charge and was fined $2.6 billion, but was allowed to keep its banking license.
That was the first time in 20 years a major bank has been convicted on US criminal charges.