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Record US fine will not hurt company, says BNP Paribas

The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on the bank's building in Paris, May 30, 2014.
The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on the bank's building in Paris, May 30, 2014. Reuters/Charles Platiau

An agreed fine between France's largest bank and US regulators will not break the bank's balance sheet, says BNP Paribas. The institution has been forced to cough up 8.9 billion dollars (6.4 billion euros) for violating sanctions, and avoid criminal proceedings. It now faces a yearlong ban on dollar clearing.

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France's top bank avoided losing its licence to operate in the US, but did not avoid a ban on conducting dollar transactions in oil and gas.

And it's this last aspect which could hurt the company, which from 2015 will no longer be allowed to clear in US dollars, a critical process for international trade.

BNP Paribas is paying the price for its lack of "vigilance" in limiting and monitoring the inherent risks relating to foreign transactions.

Between 2004 and 2012, it conducted billions of dollars worth of trade with countries including Iran and Sudan that were under US sanctions. The bank made about $70 million (around 50 million euros) in money laundering.

But since the 2008 credit crunch, the US has become very strict on financial regulation, and many analysts feel that BNP Paribas is being made an example of to placate a mistrusting American public.

The bank's director Jean-Laurent Bonnafé said he "deeply regrets the past misconduct that led to this settlement."

However he said it would "not impact on the bank's operational or business capabilities", which expects "solid results" for the second quarter.

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