PARIS Aug 5 Credit Agricole said on Tuesday that it was starting discussions with U.S. authorities over possible sanctions breaches after France's third-biggest listed bank completed an internal review of U.S. dollar transactions.
This signals progress in the negotiations a month after France's biggest listed bank, BNP Paribas, pleaded guilty on two criminal charges, accepted a ban on certain dollar clearing activities and agreed to pay a total of $8.97 billion to resolve accusations it violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran over a 10-year period up to 2012.
"We are entering the phase of explanations and discussions with U.S. authorities with whom we have cooperated from the start," Credit Agricole Chief Executive Jean-Paul Chifflet told journalists after unveiling second-quarter earnings.
The bank said it had sent the results of its internal review to the U.S. authorities.
Credit Agricole gave no details about its litigation provisions, saying it considered them adequate. As of the end of 2013, Credit Agricole's total litigation provisions stood at 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion).
Credit Agricole had a significantly smaller amount of U.S. dollar transactions involving countries under U.S. sanctions than larger banks during the period from 2003 to 2008, Chifflet added.
Societe Generale, France's second-biggest bank, said last week that it increased its litigation provisions by 200 million euros to 900 million as of the end of June, without giving any further details.
SocGen is in talks with the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control in relation to U.S. dollar transfers it made on behalf of entities based in countries subject to U.S. sanctions, according to the bank's annual report. (1 US dollar = 0.7450 euro) (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva and Matthias Blamont; Editing by James Regan)