BNP Paribas was warned in 2006 by a high-ranking U.S. Treasury official and in three reports by legal experts that it risked being penalised for breaking U.S. sanctions, according to Le Monde newspaper.
Reuters reports that since the bank flagged the risk of a big fine in February this year, sources close to the affair have said it ignored early warnings of the risks it faced. They pointed out that the alleged offending transactions being investigated by U.S. authorities continued until 2009.
The French newspaper's report, written as talks accelerate towards a possible $10bn fine and other penalties, said Stuart Levey, then the U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, made a visit to Paris in September 2006.
The paper, drawing on the findings of its own investigation, said Levey met the bank's top officials, including Baudoin Prot, who has since become chairman, in its boardroom.
Levey was there not to talk about the legal risks, but to warn the bank to be vigilant, citing the names of a number of blacklisted Iranian banks, the Le Monde report said.
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