The American daily said a “final resolution” to the long investigation into the French bank is “weeks away” and that, while the Department is pushing for $10bn from the bank, the ultimate fine could be much less.
The WSJ said BNP is pushing for a fine of less than $8bn, although this would still make it one of the largest penalties ever given to a bank. In April, BNP warned the ultimate fine could far exceed the $1.1bn it set aside to cover litigation costs last year.
The largest fine to date, a staggering $13bn, was given to JP Morgan in November last year for misleading investors during the housing crisis.
Quoting sources familiar with the situation, the WSJ said BNP and the US authorities are “locked into negotiations over whether the bank will also temporarily lose the ability to transfer money into and out of the US”.
BNP Paribas is not be the first bank in recent history to be accused of breaching sanctions with Iran. In August 2012, Standard Chartered was accused of hiding dealings with Iran worth more than $250bn.
In a damning indictment of the company, the New York State Department, which brought the charges against the bank, described Standard Chartered as a “rogue institution”, saying it had an “obvious contempt for US banking regulations”.
The bank, which was later fined $340m, denied the allegations saying that in “99.9% of cases” it complied with the Iranian sanctions and that the worth of those cases in which it did not comply was “only $14m”.