U.S. drops criminal case against French bank Societe Generale

U.S. drops criminal case against French bank Societe Generale

NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Justice ended a criminal case against Societe Generale SA on Tuesday about violations of U.S. sanctions after the French bank agreed to pay $1.34 billion and meet the terms of a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.

Societe Generale agreed to pay in November 2018 to resolve federal and New York state claims that it handled billions of dollars of transactions for parties associated with countries that are subject to embargoes or sanctions, including Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan signed an order in which the Justice Department said it would not proceed with the prosecution of Societete Generale because the bank has complied with its three-year agreement.

Societe Generale reached a separate agreement at the time to pay $95 million to resolve a New York regulator's claims that it had violated anti-money laundering regulations.

The bank acknowledged and regretted the shortcomings identified in its settlements and said it had cooperated with authorities to resolve them.

Societe Generale's $1.34 billion payout was the second-largest against a bank for violating U.S. sanctions.

The largest was an $8.9 billion payout by France's BNP Paribas SA in 2015.

Deferred prosecution agreements can be viewed as a form of probation that lets companies avoid criminal charges if they don't comply with the terms.