Top BNP Paribas Executive To Depart Amid Probe

By Mani
Updated on

BNP Paribas SA (EPA:BNP) (OTCMKTS:BNPQY)’s chief operating officer Georges Chodron de Courcel is to step down at the end of June and retire completely on September 30.

While making the announcement today, France’s biggest bank, however, said he is leaving to comply with new French bank regulations on the number of directorships he can hold.

Alleged money transfers

France’s largest bank is accused of engineering money transfers into Sudan and Iran, nations on the U.S. list of banned nations.  France has no such ban and the bank was reported to have received a legal opinion that conducting business with Sudan and Iran might be acceptable so long as it was conducted outside U.S. legal jurisdiction, as previously reported.

It has been reported that from 2002 to 2009, BNP Paribas SA (EPA:BNP) (OTCMKTS:BNPQY) is accused of processing transactions with banned countries and, when transaction paper work processed by non-US employees reached the New York office, information tying payments to U.S. entities was deleted, concealing those persons and entities who transferred assets in violation of U.S. rules.

The U.S. authorities targeted senior executive Chordron de Courcel, one of three chief operating officers at the firm.

BNP Paribas’ $10 billion fine

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Justice Department has BNP Paribas SA (EPA:BNP) (OTCMKTS:BNPQY) in its target zone, seeking to make the bank to pay a $10 billion fine to put to rest a criminal investigation into charges the French bank violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries for years.

According to a Reuters report, New York’s banking regulator has requested the departure of the long-serving George Chodron de Courcel as part of a settlement for the alleged violations of sanctions against Iran and other countries.

In the past two years, the U.S. Justice Department has set records for penalties for corporate misconduct at least seven times, including three times this year alone. The most recent was Credit Suisse Group AG (ADR) (NYSE:CS) in May, which paid $2.6 billion over charges that it helped Americans evade U.S. taxes, the largest penalty ever levied in a criminal tax case.

New York’s top banking regulator is also pushing to remove Vivien Levy-Garboua, a one-time head of compliance for BNP in the U.S. Mr Levy-Garboua has not been accused of wrongdoing. France’s largest bank also fired dozens of people at the trade finance division in Geneva. Dominique Remy, the trade finance unit head, has left after a 25-year career at the bank.

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