US, Credit Agricole near deal over sanctions violations

29th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

The United States could announce a deal with Credit Agricole next week over alleged violations of sanctions on Iran and Sudan, with the bank avoiding criminal charges, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

Negotiations between the French bank and the main US regulators -- the Justice and Treasury departments, the Federal Reserve and the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) -- have already reached a framework agreement, two people close to the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The bank will not be forced to plead guilty to criminal charges for handling dollar transactions with countries under US embargos, they said.

But other sources said earlier this month that a fine could run to nearly $1 billion.

The US authorities accuse Credit Agricole of transferring billions of dollars to accounts held by entities under US sanctions like Sudan, Cuba and Iran between 2003 and 2008.

The DFS, which supervises New York branches of foreign banks, is pushing Credit Agricole to fire the persons involved in the misconduct.

Contacted by AFP, Credit Agricole and DFS declined to comment, but Credit Agricole has said it is cooperating with the investigation.

Sources said also that the bank has undertaken an internal audit of dollar transactions handled notably by Credit Agricole CIB, the bank's corporate and investment banking arm, which include the US-alleged violations. The Credit Agricole CIB branches under scrutiny are in London, Paris, Singapore and Geneva.

Rival French bank BNP Paribas was ordered to pay a record $8.9 billion fine earlier this year for similar violations in the long-running US investigation of European banks for illicit dollar transactions with countries under US sanctions.

© 2015 AFP

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