France questions massive fine US wants for bank
France says reported multibillion dollar fine US wants against BNP Paribas is 'unreasonable'
Associated Press
2014-06-03 05:42 PM

PARIS (AP) -- France's foreign minister says a reported multibillion dollar fine that bank BNP Paribas is facing in the U.S. is unreasonable and could threaten a free-trade agreement between Europe and the United States.

BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, set aside $1.1 billion last year after the U.S. began investigating it for alleged sanctions violations, but this spring said the fines could be "far in excess." Share prices slumped last week after The Wall Street Journal reported the fine could be $10 billion.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television Tuesday: "The sanction has to be proportional and reasonable. These amounts are not reasonable."

Fabius said a massive fine could endanger the proposed free trade agreement, which he said "can only happen in a spirit of reciprocity."

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