PARIS, June 1 A junior minister in French
President Francois Hollande's government criticised a U.S.
criminal probe against BNP Paribas On Sunday, saying
France would not allow itself to be pushed around by its ally.
Fears that a looming U.S. fine on BNP Paribas over
allegations it evaded U.S. sanctions against Iran and other
countries for years hit France's biggest bank on Friday, driving
its shares sharply lower.
"The United States cannot act in a unilateral way ... The
United States cannot treat its allies like this and subordinate
them to its geostrategic interests," Jean-Marie Le Guen told BFM
TV on Sunday.
Le Guen is junior minister in charge of the government's
relationship with parliament and as such would not have any
direct role in any government initiative over the BNP Paribas
France's government had said little about the issue since it
surfaced early this year, but Le Guen said this could not be
dealt with via "megaphone diplomacy".
The French government is being very active over the matter,
he said without giving any details. "There is a lot of work
going on," he said, adding that he was distinguishing, in the
BNP Paribas probe, "between what are faults and what was being
The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that the U.S.
Justice Department wanted $10 billion from the bank - double the
amount previously reported and more than 20 percent more than
BNP's 2013 pretax income.
French central bank governor Christian Noyer had said last
month that French regulators had found no evidence that French
or United Nations rules had been broken.
"I don't have the impression we will let ourselves be pushed
around," Le Guen said.
Hollande will meet U.S. President Barack Obama at a G7
summit in Brussels on Thursday.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by