(Updates with Sapin's quotes, details)
PARIS, June 15 France's finance minister said on
Sunday that talks between BNP Paribas and U.S.
authorities over a potential fine for the bank for breaching
U.S. sanctions had progressed towards a "more equitable" level.
U.S. authorities - five of them in all, including the New
York financial regulator - are investigating whether BNP evaded
U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries between 2002 and
BNP may have to pay a fine of about $10 billion and face
other penalties such as being suspended from clearing clients'
dollar transactions, sources close to the situation have said.
The French government has said such a fine would be
"I think we have made progress towards more equitable
penalties that do not impede in a strong way the future and the
future of funding in particular," finance minister Michel Sapin
said in an interview on Europe 1 radio and news channel iTele,
asked if the fine was going to be less than $10 billion.
Sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday that
negotiations had gathered pace recently.
BNP Paribas declined to comment.
A $10 billion fine would wipe out BNP's projected 2014
earnings and put the bank's dividend under pressure, SocGen
analysts estimated last month. It would also hit BNP's core
equity tier one ratio, a measure of a bank's ability to endure
stress and market shocks, forcing it down around 100 basis
points from the current 10.6 percent, the analysts added.
Sources familiar with the matter say the U.S. authorities
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.
"What is being criticized by the U.S. authorities is the
violation of a strictly American law. The same acts committed in
France in euros would not have been reprehensible," Sapin said.
"That said, it is the American law, it should have been
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Matthias Blamont and Maya Nikolaeva;
Editing by Catherine Evans and Mark Potter)