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BNP Paribas pleads guilty to US sanction breaches

BNP Paribas has agreed to pay a record $8.9bn (£5.2bn) out-of-court settlement with US authorities after pleading guilty to sanction breaches.

US authorities said the bank – France’s largest – hid billions of dollars of transactions for clients in Sudan, Iran and Cuba to avoid US economic sanctions against those countries, even after the bank was warned it was under investigation, the Financial Times reports.

According to court documents seen by the FT, BNP’s senior compliance personnel continued to do business with Sudan despite the sanctions and reports of human rights violations.

An internal memo read: “The relationship with this body of counter parties is a historical one and the commercial stakes are significant. For these reasons, compliance does not want to stand in the way.”

Thirteen employees have reportedly left the bank as requested by the New York state’s Department of Financial Services. This includes chief operating officer Georges Chodron de Courcel, although he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Some 45 of the bank’s staff have been punished through lower pay, loss of bonuses and even demotion.

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