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BNP Paribas Agrees To Pay $8.83 Billion In Sanctions Probe

Representatives for the French bank BNP Paribas pleaded guilty on Monday and agreed to pay $8.83 billion over allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions laws by facilitating transactions involving Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"A lawyer for the bank entered the guilty pleas in New York State Supreme Court. The Manhattan District Attorney's office has been one of the agencies investigating the bank for years. The bank admitted to criminal charges of filing false business records and conspiracy.

"Justice Department officials are due to announce the terms of the settlement agreement in Washington. In addition to the $8.83 billion penalty, which is a record in a sanctions case, the settlement will include a temporary ban on dollar-clearing transactions, and the cutting of ties with some employees, both demands made by New York state regulators at the Department of Financial Services."

Reuters reports that BNP Paribas is "France's largest bank by market capitalization."

Update at 5:46 p.m. ET. Seventh Bank To Settle:

The New York Times reports BNP Paribas becomes the seventh bank to settle a sanctions violations case.

The paper reports:

"Like other banks, BNP hid the names of Sudanese and Iranian clients when sending transactions coursing through its New York operations and the broader American financial system. But the wrongdoing was more pervasive at BNP, the authorities suspected, stretching from at least 2002 into 2012, after the investigation was already in full swing.

" 'BNP individually played a central role in undermining U.S. sanctions against Sudan,' Edward Starishevsky, an assistant district attorney, said in court on Monday when the bank pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying business records and one count of conspiracy. 'This conspiracy was known and condoned at the highest levels of BNP.' "

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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