It’s not over for French bank BNP Paribas. Just one week after pleading guilty to two charges of dealing with the U.S.-sanctioned countries of Sudan, Iran and Cuba, the bank pled guilty to an additional charge of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act on July 9.
The additional guilty plea caps an $8.97 billion settlement that BNP reached with U.S. authorities on June 30. The settlement is a record sum for a global sanctions case.
U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield accepted the guilty plea following questions for U.S. prosecutors about its case. Schofield asked whether prosecutors believed they had uncovered the full scope of the transgressions, and to what extent BNP should be held responsible for the actions of satellite banks and other entities that it worked with in order to undertake the fraud.
Andrew Goldstein, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in response to the questions, “We have confidence that the numbers are accurate.” He also added that, thanks to cooperation from the bank and its employees, the government was able to determine that BNP was “at the center of this conspiracy.”
BNP will officially be sentenced on October 3, but Judge Schofield said she was satisfied with the size of the current penalty. The bank has applied for a waiver from the U.S. Labor Department that would allow it to keep working with pension funds and other asset-management clients. Typically, BNP’s guilty plea would preclude the bank from conducting this type of work.
According to a New York state regulator at the time of the original settlement’s release, the large penalties against BNP come as a result of the bank’s longstanding relationship with sanctioned parties. “Through a series of egregious schemes to evade detection and with the knowledge of multiple senior executives, BNP employees concealed more than $190 billion in transactions between 2002 and 2012 for clients subject to U.S. sanctions including Sudan, Iran and Cuba,” the regulator said.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has also spoken out against the bank, saying that BNP “perpetrated what was truly a Tour de Fraud."