Sunday

30th Apr 2017

EU commissioner steps into BNP Paribas row with US regulators

France’s top EU official on Thursday (12 June) suggested US regulators scale back a massive fine set to cost French bank BNP Paribas billions for its non-compliance with US sanctions.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s internal market commissioner, told reporters in Washington any fine should be “proportionate, fair and objective”.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Barnier steps into row between US and BNP Paribas (Photo: European Parliament)

“Given the importance of this case and the importance of this bank ... we are closely following the situation and we simply wish that this affair be handled in a proportionate, fair and objective manner,” said Barnier.

US authorities accuse BNP Paribas of breaking sanctions against Sudan, Iran and Cuba between 2002 and 2009. The bank is said to have carried out dollar transactions with the three states.

As a consequence, BNP Paribas could lose its authority to clear dollar transactions with a €7.3 billion fine on top.

The figure would be the largest fine against a bank ever imposed by US authorities and could potentially wipe out BNP’s 2013 pre-tax income of about €8.2 billion.

French authorities have already voiced objections over the possible scale of the fine.

They raised the issue with US President Barack Obama on several occasions but without result. The US president says he cannot interfere with the judicial and regulatory process of the US Justice department.

Earlier this month, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius described the multi-billion euro fine as unreasonable.

He noted the size of the fine, if issued, could endanger an EU-US free trade pact, currently under negotiation.

The EU and US are at loggerheads on whether to include financial services in the free trade agreement.

“We don't agree with the Americans on this point,” said Barnier, reports AFP.

The European Commission, negotiating on the behalf of the bloc of 28 member states, wants financial services integrated into the pact.

Meanwhile, the AFP reports the bank’s chief operating officer Georges Chodron de Courcel on Thursday stepped down in what is described as a surprise move.

BNP said Chodron de Courcel’s departure is not designed to appease the Americans who reportedly wanted him fired along with other top employees.

BNP has also attracted a separate commission investigation over its alleged role in rigging a multi-trillion euro derivatives market at the height of the crisis between 2008 and 2009.

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual