BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse have appealed to U.S. authorities to allow their subsidiaries, rather than the parent companies, to plead guilty in investigations they are facing, The New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the talks.
Prosecutors are investigating BNP over allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries, and are conducting a probe of Credit Suisse over allegations that it helped wealthy Americans evade U.S. taxes.
The newspaper said that prosecutors appeared to balk at the overtures from the banks.
Representatives for BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and the U.S. Department of Justice were not immediately available for comment.
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video that the Justice was pursuing criminal investigations of financial institutions that could result in action in the coming weeks and months, and that no company was “too big to jail.”
Two people with knowledge of the matter also told Reuters last week that prosecutors have been pushing for Credit Suisse to plead guilty in connection with the probe. A source told Reuters that the bank is in talks to pay as much as $1.6 billion to resolve the investigation.
Credit Suisse is expected to strike a deal with prosecutors as soon as this week, the Times said.
The newspaper also said that BNP Paribas Chief Executive Jean-Laurent BonnafDe and other top executives travelled to Washington and New York, arguing that a guilty plea could wreak havoc on the bank, the French economy and beyond.
The paper said U.S. prosecutors had held their own meetings with regulators to gain assurances that a guilty plea would not cost BNP its license to operate in the United States.
An eventual settlement for BNP is likely to be closer to $2 billion than the $1.1 billion that had been set aside as a provision last year, and will likely involve a guilty plea, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last month.