France's Credit Agricole SA to pay $787 mn for violation of sanctions

France's Credit Agricole SA has agreed to make a payment of $787 million for moving hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system breaching sanctions against Iran, Sudan, and other countries, US authorities said yesterday.

The bank did not give any information on wire transactions or unlawful payments during 2003 and 2008, according to the authorities.

Under the deal, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CA-CIB), a subsidiary, signed  deferred prosecution agreements with state and federal authorities.

According to Credit Agricole, France's third-biggest lender, the penalty would be allocated to its pre-existing reserve and would have no effect on accounts for the second half of 2015.

The subsidiary was charged with violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Trading with the Enemy Act, and falsification of records of New York financial institutions, according to authorities.

Under the deferred prosecution agreements, which ran for three years, the Paris-based bank could avoid criminal convictions if it complied with their terms.

From 2003 to 2008, the lender relied on several schemes to process over $32 billion in dollar payments on behalf of Sudanese, Iranian, Burmese and Cuban entities, including directing employees to omit identifying information, officials said.

In August Credit Agricole said it set aside €350 million ($397.2 million) for legal costs in the second quarter related to the US probem, which brought the bank's total litigation provisions to €1.6 billion. The payment of the penalty ''will not affect the accounts for the second half of 2015,'' the bank said yesterday a statement.

''Crédit Agricole has undertaken important voluntary steps to develop and implement measures to prevent and detect non-compliance with sanctions laws and to identify related risks,'' the bank said.

''It will continue to make improvements to its procedures and controls that are necessary to ensure strict compliance with applicable sanctions regulations.''