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France's BNP pleads guilty, agrees to pay $11b in US sanctions case

Published on Jul 1, 2014 9:41 AM

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - French bank BNP Paribas on Monday pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to pay almost US$9 billion (S$11.2 billion) to resolve allegations that it violated US sanctions laws and enabled the activities of terrorists and humans rights abusers in Sudan and elsewhere.

In an unprecedented move, regulators also banned BNP for a year from conducting certain US dollar transactions, a critical part of the bank's international business.

The authorities said the severe penalties were warranted because of BNP's persistent and deliberate violations and desire to put profits first, even after US officials warned the bank of its obligation to police for illicit money flows.

The bank essentially functioned as the "central bank for the government of Sudan," concealed its tracks and failed to cooperate when first contacted by law enforcement, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in announcing the settlement.

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