In a twist of fate, BNP Paribas, the renowned French banking institution, finds itself on the hot seat as it gears up to sort out a U.S. investigation. This scrutinization zeroes in on the unauthorized usage of certain messaging platforms by its employees, as unveiled in its mid-year earnings announcement this past Thursday. The bank, it seems, may well have to dip into its pockets to pay a hefty fine.
You see, back in 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, got curious. They wanted to know how Wall Street’s big players were monitoring their employees’ digital chit-chats, including both email and the popular app, WhatsApp. Later, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, also jumped into the fray, as confirmed by the bank’s disclosures.
Playing it safe, BNP reserved a cool 125 million euros (that’s about $139 million) in its earnings report for some “hush-hush” litigation. Mum’s the word from the bank’s spokesperson, who chose to remain tight-lipped about this provision’s specifics.
The bank broke its silence to announce that it’s reached a “gentleman’s agreement” of sorts with both the CFTC and the SEC. This agreement stems from a probe tied to the compliance with requirements to preserve records related to the use of unauthorized electronic messaging platforms for business chats. Still, BNP, the top dog of banks in the euro zone, stated, “these agreements are still awaiting the final seal of approval from the CFTC and SEC.”
BNP’s French competitor, Societe Generale, earlier this year, confessed to being caught in the same web. Meanwhile, across the Channel, the UK’s HSBC consented to cough up $75 million to put to bed CFTC charges related to shady trading and record-keeping failures, as declared by the U.S. regulator in May.
September saw over a dozen banks collectively agree to foot the bill of a whopping $1.8 billion for similar slip-ups. What a rollercoaster of a year, right?
(Just for reference, $1 is roughly equivalent to 0.8981 euros.)