Saturday

26th May 2018

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.

Debt relief talks mar Greek bailout exit

While the Greek government has committed to fulfill the last creditors' requirements in the coming month, Europeans and the International Monetary Fund are still far from an agreement on measures to reduce the country's debt in the future.

EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption

EU trade chief said the US will impose tariffs or "other limiting measures" on 1 June, as the EU's offer to start limited trade talks is probably not enough for the protectionist Trump presidency.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach