On June 30th, French bank BNP Paribas (BNP) agreed to pay $8.9 billion in fines and plead guilty to two criminal charges for concealing billions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Sudan, Iran, and Cuba from 2002 to 2012 in violation of U.S. sanctions law.
U.S. regulators found the bank stripped information from wire transfers involving entities in Iran and Cuba to avoid raising any red flags. In the case of Sudan, BNP devised elaborate payment structures that disguised their Sudanese origin and were routed through other banks.
BNP's fine is the largest yet levied on a major bank in a sanctions violation case. In addition to monetary penalties, the deal will also block certain BNP units, mainly related to oil and gas finance, from clearing U.S. dollar transactions for one year beginning January 1st, 2015. Units affected are New York, the bank's headquarters in Paris, as well as offices in Geneva, Singapore, Milan and Rome. This is the first time a global bank has had dollar transaction privileges suspended in New York State.