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US plans criminal charges against 2 foreign banks

U.S. prosecutors are envisaging filing criminal charges against two large foreign banks – for allegedly skirting economic sanctions against Iran in the case of BNP Paribas and for allegedly helping clients avoid U.S. taxes in the case of Credit Suisse. In the case of BNP Paribas, the head of the New York State Department of Financial Services indicated in discussions with prosecutors and regulators that he didn’t plan to revoke the bank’s New York charter if an agreement included other penalties. Those penalties could possibly include the suspension of BNP’s ability to process dollar transactions through its New York office and punishments against individual employees. The Federal Reserve, however, hasn’t decided whether to leave the bank’s licenses intact. Attorney General Eric Holder has been pushing prosecutors to determine how to make banks plead guilty to criminal charges. But prosecutors have worried that such a move, which amounts to a criminal conviction, would result in regulators like the Federal Reserve and New York’s Department of Financial Services stripping the banks of licenses to do business in the U.S.

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