EU hopes for 'fair' US action in French bank case
The European Union hopes the United States will be "fair" in its treatment of BNP Paribas over the French bank's alleged US sanctions violations, a senior EU official said Thursday.
The EU's internal market and services commissioner, Michel Barnier, said that Brussels was following developments in the US case against France's largest bank, which reportedly might have to pay at least $10 billion in fines to resolve the accusations.
"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," Barnier said at a news conference in Washington.
The bank is accused of breaking sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba between 2002 and 2009 by carrying out dollar transactions with them, but such cases are usually the subject of negotiations with US judicial officials.
In addition to the huge fines, BNP may have to suspend dollar transactions in the US, according to US media.
Barnier, asked about the impact of a massive settlement on the European financial system, said he was unable to evaluate "potential effects" while the terms of the a settlement were still unknown.
The case is a hot-button issue with the French government. French President Francois Hollande has raised the matter several times with US President Barack Obama.
Obama, however, has made it clear he would not interfere in the judicial process because that would violate the independence of the US judiciary.
France also has said that the possibility of what it sees as disproportionate penalties could hurt ongoing negotiations on a vast free-trade pact between the 28-member EU and the US.
© 2014 AFP