'Tour de Fraud' Earns Bank Record Fine

BNP Paribas fined almost $9B for bypassing sanctions

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 1, 2014 10:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Federal prosecutors at last made good on their promise to get a guilty plea out of a major bank yesterday, as BNP Paribas agreed to a record fine of almost $9 billion for violating US sanctions. The bank, the biggest in France, "perpetrated what was truly a Tour de Fraud," said US Attorney Preet Bharara. The company allegedly cleared $190 billion for Sudan, Iran, and Cuba, the Wall Street Journal explains, but regulators could only prove $9 billion of those transactions were criminal. Had they taken BNP to court, they could have sought a fine twice as large.

None of BNP's individual employees have been charged, though the bank has fired 13 of them and disciplined 45 in some fashion. The Justice Department said the bank had effectively shielded them by being unwilling to cooperate sooner. This is just the beginning for the Justice Department, which intends to pursue a similar strategy against two other major French banks—Credit Agricole and Societe Generale—plus Germany's Deutsche Bank and Citigroup's Mexican unit Banamex, sources tell Reuters.

This Feb. 14, 2013, file photo shows BNP Paribas' logo at its headquarters in Paris, France.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
FBI Director James Comey, center, flanked by New York DA Cyrus Vance, left, and US Attorney Preet Bharara, right, speaks about a deal with BNP Paribas at the Justice Department, June 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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