Executive of French bank BNP Paribas leaves amid US probe into sanctions violations

PARIS – A top executive at French bank BNP Paribas is leaving the company amid a trans-Atlantic dispute over a potential multi-billion-dollar U.S. fine for the bank’s activities in Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

The bank said Thursday that Chief Operating Officer Georges Chodron de Courcel will retire in September. He is 64, and his term was to finish in 2016. The bank did not explain the reason for his departure.

U.S. banking regulators sought the departure of Chodron de Courcel and other executives as part of an investigation into BNP Paribas. The probe focuses on the bank’s currency transactions through its New York office for clients in Iran, Sudan and Cuba in violation of U.S. trade sanctions.

A New York official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said they asked several months ago for Chodron de Courcel to leave, as well as about a dozen other bank officials, including senior adviser and former head of compliance Vivien Levi-Garboua.

The official said the negotiations over penalties that include fines and possible suspension of the bank’s New York license for its dollar-clearing bank operations, are ongoing. Lawsky’s office declined comment.

The case has angered French authorities.


Michael Virtanen in New York City contributed to this report.