July 8, 2014 / 6:30 AM / 6 years ago

US regulators begin settlement talks with Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank -source

July 8 (Reuters) - U.S. state and federal authorities have begun settlement talks with Germany’s Commerzbank AG and Deutsche Bank over their dealings with countries blacklisted by the United States, a source with direct knowledge of the regulatory investigations said.

The settlement talks have just begun and the timing of the deal is unclear at this time, the person told Reuters.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank declined to comment.

The New York Times first reported that the settlement talks with Commerzbank were on and a deal could be struck as soon as this summer. (nyti.ms/1xJyjeA)

Commerzbank, accused by U.S. authorities of transferring money through its U.S. operations on behalf of companies in Iran and Sudan, could pay at least $500 million in penalties, the New York Times reported.

The No.2 German lender would likely face a so-called deferred prosecution agreement that would suspend criminal charges in exchange for the financial penalty and other concessions, the report said.

A potential deal with Commerzbank, which is expected to pave the way for a separate settlement with Deutsche Bank, would pale in comparison to the deal with France’s BNP Paribas SA , the NYT said.

Last week, French bank BNP Paribas pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to pay almost $9 billion to resolve accusations it violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran, a severe punishment aimed at sending a clear message to other financial institutions around the world.

Commerzbank had 934 million euros ($1.27 billion) at the end of 2013 as provision for litigation risks, including a possible U.S. probe into whether the bank breached sanctions.

Reuters reported last week that Deutsche Bank, Banamex USA, the U.S. arm of Citigroup Inc’s Mexican banking group Banamex, and two major French banks - Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, are among those being investigated for possible money laundering or sanctions violations.

However, talks with the two French banks were not on the front burner, the source told Reuters on Monday.

Reuters could not immediately reach the authorities conducting the investigations - U.S. Department of Justice, New York State’s banking regulator and the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Numerous other banks, including Standard Chartered, Lloyds Banking Group and Credit Suisse Group have previously settled with U.S. authorities over allegations they violated sanctions. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore and Karen Freifeld in New York; additional reporting by Thomas Atkins and Alexander Huebner; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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