France’s Largest Bank Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges in U.S., Will Pay Record $9 Billion Fine

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 30 2014 8:03 PM

France’s Largest Bank Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges in U.S., Will Pay Record $9 Billion Fine

127493720-photo-taken-on-september-12-2011-in-paris-shows-the
French bank BNP Paribas settles sanctions charges with the Justice Department.

Photo by MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the Justice Department announced the largest criminal settlement in U.S. history with French bank BNP Paribas. The bank agreed to pay $9 billion and pleaded guilty to two criminal charges—one of falsifying business records and one of conspiracy—for breaking U.S. sanctions, or as the New York Times puts it: “transferring billions of dollars on behalf of Sudan and other countries blacklisted by the United States.”

“Between 2004 and 2012, BNP engaged in a complex and pervasive scheme to illegally move billions through the US financial system," Attorney General Eric Holder said during a press conference Monday. “As part of its agreement with US authorities, BNP agreed to fire and not re-hire 13 individuals who were associated with the sanctions violations,” the BBC reports. “It will also be prevented from clearing certain transactions in US dollars for one year from the start of 2015."

Advertisement

The settlement, months in the making, had grown political with France conveying its displeasure that its largest bank was being targeted. “France has been pressing the US over the size of the fine, which almost equals BNP's entire 2013 pre-tax income of about [$11.2 billion],” according to the BBC. “French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has previously said a fine of the size suggested would be ‘an extremely serious problem’, an ‘unfair and unilateral decision" and ‘not reasonable’." “[French] President François Hollande made unusually direct and personal appeals to President Obama, while several French financial officials visited prosecutors and regulators in Washington and New York,” the Times reports.

“This outcome should send a strong message to any institution – any institution anywhere in the world – that does business in the United States: that illegal conduct will simply not be tolerated,” Holder said Monday.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Federal Law Enforcement Has Declared War on Encryption

Justice and the FBI really do not like Apple’s and Google’s new privacy measures.

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?