(Updates to say BNP Paribas declined to comment)
May 12 BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse
Group have appealed to U.S. authorities to allow their
local subsidiaries, rather than the parent companies, to plead
guilty to criminal charges they face in the United States, the
New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the talks.
Prosecutors are investigating BNP over allegations that it
violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries, and
are conducting a probe of Credit Suisse over allegations that it
helped wealthy Americans evade U.S. taxes.
The newspaper said prosecutors appeared to balk at the
overtures for leniency. (r.reuters.com/bab39v)
The banks are concerned that criminal charges against the
parents could imperil their larger operations.
Julia Boyce, a spokeswoman for BNP Paribas in Paris,
declined to comment on the report.
Representatives of Credit Suisse and the U.S. Department of
Justice were not immediately available.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video last week
that the DoJ was pursuing criminal investigations of financial
institutions that could result in action in the coming weeks and
months, and that no company was "too big to jail".
Two people with knowledge of the matter also told Reuters
last week that prosecutors have been pushing for Credit Suisse
to plead guilty in connection with the probe.
A source told Reuters that the bank was in talks to pay as
much as $1.6 billion to resolve the
Credit Suisse is expected to strike a deal with prosecutors
as soon as this week, the New York Times said.
The newspaper also said that BNP Paribas Chief Executive
Jean-Laurent Bonnafé and other top executives traveled to
Washington and New York, arguing that a guilty plea could wreak
havoc on the bank, the French economy and beyond.
The paper said U.S. prosecutors had held their own meetings
with regulators to gain assurances that a guilty plea would not
cost BNP its license to operate in the United States.
An eventual settlement for BNP is likely to be closer to $2
billion than the $1.1 billion that had been set aside as a
provision last year, and will likely involve a guilty plea, a
person familiar with the matter told Reuters last month.
(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Edwina
Gibbs and Ted Kerr)