Μετά τα 8.970.000.000 $ και κάτι ψιλά που πλήρωσε η BNP Paribas, έρχεται η σειρά της COMMERZBANK. Ακολουθεί η Credit Agricole. Μήπως ήρθε η ώρα και για δικό μας παλικάρι που είχε θυγατρική στο Σουδάν; Μμμμμμ…… αδελφούλη πρέπει να δούμε το θέμα. Θα έχει πολύ μεγάλο ενδιαφέρον…..
Laundering Case Hangs Over Commerzbank
New Matter Could Upset Plans for Settlement of Sanctions Issue
The Manhattan U.S. attorney is investigating Commerzbank AG for alleged violations of money-laundering laws, potentially throwing a wrench in efforts by Germany’s second-largest bank to settle separate allegations that it violated sanctions by doing business with Iran and Sudan.
The sanctions probe is more advanced, and Commerzbank had been closing in on a deal with U.S. and state officials that could have required the bank to pay more than $600 million, according to people briefed on the investigation. The pact was on track to be finalized by the end of September, the people said.
But federal prosecutors in Manhattan are now investigating allegations Commerzbank had lax controls for detecting and preventing money laundering, and the new probe has in recent days emerged as a sticking point for the settlement, according to these people.
A Commerzbank spokeswoman declined to comment.
U.S. officials are considering whether to resolve the two investigations into the German bank in one settlement, a move that could both delay a resolution and add hundreds of millions of dollars to the potential penalties Commerzbank could pay, the people briefed on the matter said.
The investigations come amid scrutiny from U.S. authorities of financial institutions, many of them European, who may have violated U.S. sanctions against blacklisted countries including Iran, Sudan and Cuba. The sprawling sanctions investigation, which was started in 2008 by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, has ensnared some of the world’s largest banks. BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest lender, pleaded guilty in July to dealings with sanctioned countries and agreed to pay $8.97 billion.
To settle the sanctions allegations, Commerzbank likely would pay more than $600 million, admit to wrongdoing, and enter into a deferred-prosecution agreement that would allow it to avoid a criminal prosecution if it abides by the pact’s terms, the people said. Commerzbank, which is partially owned by the German government, is likely to avoid a guilty plea, according to two of the people familiar with the matter, because its alleged conduct isn’t considered by authorities to be as egregious as that of BNP.
The bank would prefer to finalize the sanctions settlement now, two people familiar with the matter said, rather than risk a lengthier and more uncertain settlement process. Commerzbank appears to be driven, in part, by the belief it is getting a good deal under the terms of the sanctions settlement, one of these people said.
There is still a chance the matters could be settled separately, the people familiar with the matter said, and the final framework for any deal is still under negotiation.
The development has also caused friction among the handful of regulators’ and prosecutors’ offices involved in the negotiations, two people familiar with the talks said.
The sanctions probe is being handled by the U.S. Department of Justice; the Manhattan district attorney’s office; the Washington U.S. attorney’s office; New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky ; and the Federal Reserve.
Justice Department officials are frustrated that the sanctions settlement could be held up by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into money laundering, these people said. The alleged sanctions violations are more egregious than the conduct at issue in the probe of alleged money laundering, one person said, but both relate to the alleged failure of the bank’s internal monitoring and controls to prevent illegal transactions. Mr. Bharara’s probe is examining potential violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, a 1970 law that requires financial institutions to detect and prevent money laundering, the people familiar with the matter said.
Part of the sanctions settlement is related to Commerzbank’s alleged dealing with an Iranian state-sponsored shipping company, one person briefed on the investigation said. The bank allegedly continued to transact with the shipper after it was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2008 for allegedly supporting Iran’s nuclear program.
The specific focus of the investigation of alleged money laundering is unclear.
Several other banks have begun talks with U.S. authorities to resolve their sanctions investigations. French bank Crédit Agricole SA is in negotiations with prosecutors and could pay more than $600 million to resolve its probe before the end of the year, a person familiar with the talks said. A Crédit Agricole spokeswoman declined to comment.
WSJ – Christopher M. Matthews