US could charge BNP Paribas over $3.5bn

US OFFICIALS are reportedly pushing for a payment of more than $3.5bn (£1.78bn) from French bank BNP Paribas to put an end to an investigation into whether the group violated American economic sanctions.

The country’s Justice Department has been attempting to identify financial institutions that circumvented its economic restrictions on certain countries, which include Iran and Sudan.

People involved in discussions between the bank and US departments told Bloomberg that the US may seek a payment of over $3.5bn, as well as an admission of guilt.

Both BNP Paribas and US authorities declined to comment on the reports, but BNP Paribas announced in their most recent financial results that the scale of the potential US penalties were subject to a “high degree of uncertainty”.

It warned further: “There is the possibility that the amount of the fines could be far in excess of the amount of the provision. In the last quarter of 2013, the group set aside €798m (£649.8m) as a provision against the risk of a significant fine.”

BNP Paribas’ share price dropped as the reports broke, ending down by 0.43 per cent yesterday.

A smaller payment of $619m was made by ING to wrap up allegations of breaking US sanctions in 2012, the largest such settlement at the time.