France would defend the interests of bank BNP Paribas after the information appeared that it faced the prospect of over a $10 billion fine from the United States on charges of violating sanctions on Iran and Sudan, the country’s foreign ministry said, calling such sanctions “unreasonable.”
“If there is a an error or a violation then it’s normal that there is a fine, but the fine has to be proportionate and reasonable,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on France 2 television. “These figures are not reasonable,” he said.
Currently, little is known about BNP Paribas’ negotiations with US authorities’ investigation whether it evaded sanctions related primarily to countries Iran, Syria, Sudan between 2002 and 2009.
US authorities declared that the BNP Paribas, which is the France’s biggest lender, stripped out identifying information from wire transfers so they could pass through the US financial system, Reuters reports.
Sources familiar with the negotiations said a settlement could include a fine of over $10 billion and other penalties, such as a possible temporary suspension of the bank’s authority to clear US dollar transactions.
Foreign minister Fabius said that US decision would raise questions over European Union-US trade negotiations given the agreement should be based on reciprocity.
“But here you would have an example of unfair and unilateral decision. It would be an extremely serious problem.”
Fabius’ comments come just two days before US President Barack Obama’s visit to France where he is going hold bilateral talks with his French counterpart Francois Hollande.
“These figures could have a negative impact and BNP could see its funds hit and that means less loans especially for French firms,” Fabius stated.
“It’s an extremely serious question that the Americans must handle in a spirit of partnership and not unilaterally,” he said.
Source: Voice of Russia