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Judge accepts BNP guilty plea for sanction offenses

BNP Paribas pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of violating U.S. economic sanctions by processing transactions for clients in blacklisted countries, a development that a U.S. judge said should shows that no financial institution is “immune from the rule of law.”

The plea to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) came a week after France’s largest bank agreed to forfeit roughly $8.9 billion and was submitted to U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield in the Southern District of New York.

The bank admitted processing billions of dollars in illegal transactions on behalf of clients in Sudan, Cuba and Iran, violating U.S. trade sanctions imposed to stymie the participation of those countries in the global financial system.

In accepting BNP’s guilty plea, the court formally accepted the plea agreement that had been entered into by the government and BNP on June 30.

Under the agreement, BNP agreed to forfeit $8.9 billion, pay a criminal fine of $140 million, cooperate with U.S. authorities and be subject to a five-year term of probation.

During the probation period, BNP must enhance its compliance program.

“The defendant’s actions not only flouted U.S. foreign policy, but also provided support to governments that threaten both our regional and national security, and in the case of Sudan, a government that has committed flagrant human rights abuses and has known links to terrorism,” Judge Schofield said.

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Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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