FRENCH bank BNP Paribas is understood to be close to a settlement with American regulators over allegations it broke sanctions against countries including Iran and Sudan.
The bill is now expected to come in at more than $8bn (£4.7bn), less than the $10bn recently feared but still far in excess of the $1.1bn the bank had set aside earlier this year to cover the charges.
The giant bank could also be banned from clearing dollar transactions, removing an important privilege and forcing it to rely on other banks for the vital service.
BNP Paribas is accused of removing key information from transaction records so that the funds could pass through the US without being noticed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The transactions reportedly amount to around $30bn, making this the biggest case of its type yet brought by officials.
The record fine would swamp the $100m paid by RBS for breaking sanctions, as well as the $667m total paid by Standard Chartered to a range of US regulators.
Credit Suisse kicked off the round of fines for these offences with a $536m bill in 2009.
BNP Paribas declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations.
The bank’s shares fell 0.45 per cent to €50.96 yesterday.
That price is down from more than €60 as recently as February and illustrates the long-running impact of the negotiations with regulators around the fine.