NEW YORK (Reuters) -- BNP Paribas on Monday pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to pay $8.83 billion in a broad agreement with U.S. authorities over charges the French bank violated U.S. sanctions laws.
A lawyer for BNP briefly appeared in New York state court on Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying business records and one count of conspiracy.
Assistant District Attorney Ted Starishevsky said the bank engaged in a "long-term, multi-jurisdictional conspiracy" to violate sanctions laws by facilitating transactions involving Sudan, Cuba, and Iran.
"This conduct, this conspiracy was known and condoned at the highest levels of BNP," Starishevsky said.
U.S. authorities have been examining whether BNP Paribas evaded U.S. sanctions, in part by stripping identifying information from wire transfers so they could pass through the U.S. financial system without raising red flags.
BNP Paribas is also likely to be suspended from making dollar payments on behalf of clients in some businesses for as long as a year, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters, an untested and potentially severe penalty for the French bank.
The New York State Department of Financial Services, headed by Benjamin Lawsky, had proposed the ban as one condition for not revoking BNP's license to operate in New York.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax, Writing by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Karey Van Hall andSandra Maler)