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BNP Paribas: "Ten billion dollars is a small amount for this bank monster"

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BNP Paribas: "Ten billion dollars is a small amount for this bank monster"



Gaël Giraud Jesuit Catholic priest, is director of research at CNRS, member of the Centre for Economics from the Sorbonne, the LabEx refi (Financial Regulation) and the Paris School of Economics.

© Jérôme Chatin / L'Expansion



Claim that BNP Paribas has respected the French and European laws and the only fault that earned him a fine threat is the use of the dollar is the bad faith: the United States have always made clear to the companies based at home ( So they are making money, the United States more than 10% of the turnover of the BNP) that they had to respect the US embargoes. It is not under the use of the dollar as the first French bank is scolding but because she was fully aware that not complying with these laws, she was taking a big risk. As such, "Sacred Union" which was built in the French press around what could become a BNPGate with these ospreys cries to the sound of "Saving BNP Soldier" is confusing. And no shortage of resonances at the time of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landing of June 6, 1944.

AFAIK, BNP Paribas continued for violating US embargoes (using US offset US dollars) but also for destroying incriminating documents, thereby impeding the course of justice, and incidentally to US prosecutors have dealt with arrrogance some bankers are no longer able to dispose ... I conclude, for my part, that if there are sanctions, it will be legitimate.



Ten billion dollars is a small amount for this monster bank balance sheet assets (1800 billion at end 2013) is close to the French GDP (2000 billion), the own funds weigh 90 billion. At worst, the bank's shareholders will not receive dividends this year. This will be their contribution to the precarious situation in which financial excesses (which includes the actions that are now alleged to BNP Paribas) have plunged much of European citizens.

Hand in the cookie jar

The US attorney has also meant that, to avoid the bank to be sued, it would not only meet him this sum but thank a dozen of its officers and especially plead guilty. The executives who will leave the bank are hardly to be pitied their wages went enable them to comfortably wait for retirement while paying education for their children. A good portion of them, moreover, will soon return to work. To take an example, Fabrice Tourre, the French trader who was accused in the Goldman Sachs case, knowingly sold rotten financial products to its customers, has certainly been sacked by the US investment bank, but has just be hired as a teacher at the University of Chicago.

More annoying is the fact that BNP Paribas should plead guilty. This will be the first time in years that the bank will recognize, like many others, have been taken hand in the cookie jar. Still, admit mistakes, is not this the first step toward learning the wisdom? As, for example, the many tax havens where the bank is located, one in Europe has dared to force him to give up these settlements subsidiaries which, however, siphoning the tax base of European countries. And impunity is a very bad signal sent to stowaways white collar which, on our continent, dodge their responsibilities as citizens-taxpayers.

Also punish other banks

Of course, a penalty lasting detrimental to the reputation of the second European bank indirectly undermine the interests of France and Europe. But, first, the interests of a bank do not identify with the general interest. Second, banks are not above the law, even American and the "economic patriotism", which I am in favor also is not to be confused with the refusal of the rules.

The right "answer" to this offensive of the US administration is certainly not look for excuses to us that BNP Paribas escape justice. On the contrary, European, Greek, Italian ... could penalize Goldman Sachs for rigging the Greek government accounts that allowed Athens to enter the Euro area, and JP Morgan for selling toxic loans in Italy.

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