PARIS (Reuters) - The threat that French bank BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) could be suspended from clearing clients’ dollar transactions could be disruptive to the international financial system, the head of the French central bank said on Wednesday.
BNP Paribas may have to pay a fine of about $10 billion for allegedly evading U.S. sanctions, sources say, which Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer said could weigh on its capacity to lend not only in France but the wider world.
“Another thing that worries me personally is the threat to certain dollar clearing operations in the United States,” Noyer said on BFM TV.
“That too is something that could put the smooth functioning of the international financial system in danger.”
U.S. authorities are probing whether BNP evaded U.S. sanctions relating to Iran and other countries between 2002 and 2009, and whether it stripped out identifying information from wire transfers so they could pass through the U.S. financial system without raising red flags.
Noyer, who traveled recently to New York to discuss the case with regulators there, said that BNP Paribas’ survival was not under threat although the size of the fine reported to be under consideration was “disproportionate” in his eyes.
The French government has also evoked wider economic concerns about the potential fine looming over BNP Paribas, but U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed last week any prospect that he would intervene in the case against France’s largest listed bank.
“This is a case that will leave a mark and could lead to the development of using other currencies for international trade,” Noyer said.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by John Irish