BNP Paribas Swiss business joins commodity trade finance exodus

FILE PHOTO: The BNP Paribas logo is seen at a branch in Paris, France, February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The Swiss arm of France’s BNP Paribas said it is closing its commodity trade finance business, the latest bank to withdraw after the coronavirus crisis led to defaults and exposed a series of frauds.

Industry sources have said the BNP division has struggled to be profitable since cutbacks prompted by a $8.9 billion fine it paid for violating U.S. sanctions in 2014.

“BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA has decided to discontinue its commodity transactional financing activities,” BNP’s Swiss arm said in a statement, adding that this could impact up to 120 employees in Geneva.

It did not give a timetable for the closure but said clients interests would be preserved, adding that it would refocus on corporate and institutional banking and wealth management.

Dutch lender ABN Amro last month announced its withdrawal from commodity trade finance after a run of losses.

BNP said last year it was considering laying off 250 employees out of around 1,400 in Switzerland.

(This story was refiled to remove extraneous word “of” in paragraph 2, adds missing word “it” in paragraph 4)

Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Alexander Smith