News / Europe

Report: BNP Got High-level 2006 Warnings on Sanctions Busting

The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on top of the bank's building in Fontenay-sous-Bois, eastern Paris, May 30, 2014.
The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on top of the bank's building in Fontenay-sous-Bois, eastern Paris, May 30, 2014.
Reuters
French bank BNP Paribas was warned in 2006 by a high-ranking U.S. Treasury official and in three reports by legal experts that it risked being penalized for breaking U.S. sanctions, according to Le Monde newspaper.
 
Since France's biggest bank flagged the risk of a big fine in February this year, sources close to the affair have said it ignored early warnings of the risks it faced. They pointed out that the alleged offending transactions being investigated by U.S. authorities continued until 2009.
 
The French newspaper's report, written as talks accelerate towards a possible $10 billion fine and other penalties, said Stuart Levey, then the U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, made a visit to Paris in September 2006.
 
The paper, drawing on the findings of its own investigation, said Levey met the bank's top officials, including Baudoin Prot, who has since become chairman, in its boardroom.
 
Levey was there not to talk about the legal risks, but to warn the bank to be vigilant, citing the names of a number of blacklisted Iranian banks, the Le Monde report said.
 
U.S. President George Bush had called Iran part of an “Axis of Evil” and wanted European banks to stop working there. Levey took the same “clear” message to other European banks, Le Monde reported.
 
A second set of warnings also came in 2006, the report said, this time from legal experts, after ABN Amro was fined $40 million for breaking sanctions against Iran and Libya in January of that year.
 
Until that point, lawyers Cleary Gottlieb had assured BNP Paribas it was not at risk as long as it operated outside U.S. territory, Le Monde said. However the ABN Amro fine was a first - covering transactions done outside the United States. After it, Cleary Gottlieb changed its advice to say there was a risk in certain cases. Two other expert reports commissioned by the bank came to a similar conclusion.
 
BNP Paribas was not immediately available to comment on the Le Monde report.
 
The bank has said publicly only that it is in discussions with U.S. authorities about “certain U.S. dollar payments involving countries, persons and entities that could have been subject to economic sanctions”.
 
It has set aside $1.1 billion for the fine but told shareholders it could be far higher than that. Last month it also said it had improved control processes to ensure such mistakes did not occur again.
 
The suggestion that Prot had a personal warning from the U.S. Treasury puts a new focus of attention on him after the bank announced the departure of chief operating officer Georges Chodron de Courcel on Thursday.
 
U.S. authorities - five of them in all including the New York financial regulator - are investigating whether BNP evaded U.S. sanctions between 2002 and 2009. Sources familiar with the matter say they are trying to establish whether the bank stripped out identifying information from wire transfers so they could pass through the U.S. financial system without raising red flags.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid