(Adds background, details of negotiations)
By Karen Freifeld and Aruna Viswanatha
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON May 13 BNP Paribas
is in talks with U.S. authorities to pay more than $3
billion to resolve probes into whether the French bank violated
U.S. sanctions on Iran, Sudan and other countries, people
familiar with the matter said.
The bank warned last month it faced fines in excess of $1.1
billion over the matter, but declined to provide a specific
The probes are being conducted by the U.S. Justice
Department, the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, the U.S.
Treasury Department, the Manhattan District Attorney's office,
and the New York Department of Financial Services.
BNP Paribas declined to comment on Tuesday on the size of
Prosecutors have also pushed the bank to plead guilty to
criminal charges as part of a resolution, sources have said. The
Justice Department has faced criticism that it has shied away
from prosecuting financial companies accused of engaging in
Last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said his
department was working closely with regulators to address
potential consequences that might arise from the criminal
prosecution of financial institutions, without naming specific
Last Thursday, BNP Paribas Chief Executive Officer
Jean-Laurent Bonnafe and the bank's lawyers met with the New
York Department of Financial Services, the state's banking
regulator, and made a plea for leniency, one source said.
The source said the regulator, led by Benjamin Lawsky,
wouldn't revoke the bank's license if other stiff penalties were
included in the settlement.
Such penalties could include temporarily suspending dollar
clearing through New York and terminating more than a dozen
employees, though no final decision has been made, the source
Authorities have gone after several foreign banks over
violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and other countries, alleging
that the banks did business with entities associated with
sanctioned countries, or stripped information from wire
transfers so they could pass through the U.S. financial system
without raising red flags.
Past U.S. settlements have ensnared rivals such as Standard
Chartered (STAN.L), which agreed in 2012 to pay $327 million to
resolve allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions against
Iran, Sudan, Burma and Libya. The bank was separately fined $340
million by New York's banking regulator over Iranian sanctions.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York, Aruna Viswanatha in
Washington and Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by Karey Van
Hall and Jeffrey Benkoe)