* Germany urges common EU position on US banking sanctions
* France wants to boost use of euro in global business
* Denies report it wants US sanctions on G20 Nov agenda
(Recasts with German, French comments, adds Italian position)
PARIS/BERLIN, Aug 4 France and Germany are
seeking a unified European position on U.S. banking sanctions, a
German spokesman said on Monday, though Paris denied a report it
was pushing for a G20 meeting of world leaders later this year
to challenge the sanctions.
The French Finance Ministry said it was instead seeking
support from EU partners to bolster the use of the euro in
international business as a way of reducing the potentially very
costly exposure of European firms to U.S. sanctions law.
The so-called extra-territoriality of U.S. sanctions law,
which apply to foreign firms carrying out transactions in U.S.
dollars even if the operations involve non-U.S. branches,
allowed U.S. authorities to fine French lender BNP Paribas
nearly $9 billion last month.
A spokesman for the German finance ministry said: "I can
confirm that the matter was a subject of discussion between
Germany and France and also between the ministers."
Both German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his
French counterpart Michel Sapin "would like to see a unified
European position on this matter," he added. Individual banks
were not discussed, he said.
The German Finance Ministry made the comments following a
Financial Times report which said Paris had gathered support to
challenge heavy U.S. penalties on foreign banks at a gathering
of the world's 20 biggest economies in November in Australia.
"France has not asked for the extra-territoriality of U.S.
law to be a specific point on the agenda of the G20. What we are
working on is the role of the euro in international
transactions," an official at the French Finance Ministry said.
However, the French official did not rule out that the issue
of the extra-territoriality of U.S. sanctions law could be added
to the agenda of the November G20 "at a later stage".
The Financial Times wrote that, after recent talks with
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, Berlin, London and Rome
were backing a push by Paris to have its concerns on U.S.
extra-territoriality discussed at the November gathering in
A spokesman for Italy's Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan
said Padoan and Sapin had discussed the role of the euro during
talks in Rome last week but not the more controversial issue of
the right of U.S. authorities to impose fines on foreign banks.
"Padoan promised to bring this issue (of the euro's role in
international transactions) to the attention of the Ecofin," the
spokesman said, referring to the monthly meetings of EU finance
ministers. "(Sapin and Padoan) did not discuss the case of U.S.
penalties on foreign banks or the G20 agenda," he added.
U.S. authorities fined French bank BNP Paribas a
record $8.9 billion for breaking U.S. sanctions against Sudan,
Cuba and Iran over a 10-year period up to 2012.
France has repeatedly called for efforts to bolster the role
of the euro in international business following the BNP case,
which saw the French bank plead guilty to two criminal charges
and accept a ban on certain dollar-clearing activities.
(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Ingrid Melander in Paris,
Andreas Rinke in Berlin and Giselda Vagnoni in Rome; Writing by
Alexandra Hudson and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Gareth Jones)