BNP CEO says can absorb U.S. fine without cash call - paper

PARIS, July 1 Tue Jul 1, 2014 2:56pm EDT

PARIS, July 1 (Reuters) - French bank BNP Paribas can withstand the impact of the record $9 billion fine imposed on it by U.S. authorities without having to raise fresh capital, Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe told Les Echos newspaper in an interview.

"I'm not trying to minimise the financial impact, which is enormous," the CEO was quoted by the newspaper as saying in the interview published on its website on Tuesday.

"The bank could have reinvested this money in the company or distributed it to shareholders. I say it again, we are financially solid ... a group like BNP Paribas can absorb a shock like that without calling on the market."

Asked whether his predecessor, Baudouin Prot, now chairman of the bank, had been weakened by the episode, Bonnafe said he would remain in the role "even if the shock is as hard for him as for the rest of the group".

BNP Paribas pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to pay almost $9 billion to resolve accusations that it had violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran, in a severe punishment aimed at sending a clear message to other financial institutions around the world. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Alexandria Sage)