Credit Agricole to Pay $787 Million in Iran Sanctions Accord

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Credit Agricole to Pay $787 Million in Iran Sanctions Accord.

French bank Credit Agricole is set to pay $800 million for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries. Credit Agricole SA agreed to pay $787 million to U.S. regulators and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department to resolve allegations the French bank violated sanctions aimed at Iran and Sudan. The bank was accused of transferring billions of dollars into accounts associated with Iran, Sudan, Myanmar, and Cuba—all of which are officially off-limits. From 2003 to 2008, the bank relied on several schemes to process more than $32 billion in dollar payments on behalf of Sudanese, Iranian, Burmese and Cuban entities, including directing employees to omit identifying information, officials said. A subsidiary employed an internal code, using phrases such as “one of our clients” or “our good customer” to describe parties involved in such transactions.

One client, who referred to the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan as “an exaggeration in the media,” urged the bank to continue processing payments connected to that country. In some transactions, a Sudanese bank client would send the following request to Credit Agricole’s Geneva subsidiary: “DON’T MENTION SUDAN ON THIS PAYMENT ORDER.” Credit Agricole could be subject to prosecution if it violates any of the settlement’s terms over the next three years. On Sunday, they formally adopted the pact, in which the U.S. will ease some sanctions after the Islamic Republic delivers on pledges to restrict its nuclear program. In resolving the case, Credit Agricole joins 10 other global banks that have entered into similar settlements over the past six years acknowledging conduct that violated U.S. sanctions laws. European lenders Deutsche Bank AG, Societe Generale SA and UniCredit AG have all disclosed they are cooperating with U.S. authorities in investigations over whether they allowed foreign clients from blacklisted countries to move money through U.S. offices.

Last year, U.S. prosecutors extracted a guilty plea and a record $8.9 billion fine from BNP Paribas SA, France’s biggest bank, for violating restrictions against the same countries. The payment of the penalty “will not affect the accounts for the second half of 2015,” the bank said Tuesday in a statement. “Crédit Agricole has undertaken important voluntary steps to develop and implement measures to prevent and detect non-compliance with sanctions laws and to identify related risks,” the bank said. “It will continue to make improvements to its procedures and controls that are necessary to ensure strict compliance with applicable sanctions regulations.” The bank’s financial penalty will be divided up among regulators and prosecutors.

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