US president Barack Obama has dismissed French calls to intervene in the row over
a prospective US$10bn-plus fine to be levied by the US on BNP Paribas
over alleged sanctions busting.
“The tradition of the United States is that the president does not meddle in prosecutions,” he said.
“I do not pick up the phone and tell the attorney general how to prosecute cases that have been brought. I do not push for settlements of cases that have been brought. Those are decisions that are made by an independent Department of Justice.”
Obama said he had communicated that message to France’s president, Francois Hollande. “Perhaps it is a different tradition than exists in other countries, but it is designed to make sure that the rule of law is not in any way impacted by political expediency,” he added.
However, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius repeated his suggestion that negotiations between France and the US over the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could be hurt by the issue.
“This treaty can only exist on the basis of reciprocity,” he said in a radio interview. “If, in the case of a European bank, they were behaving in a unilateral way, and not on the basis of reciprocity, that could have negative consequences.”
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