WASHINGTON — Two days after a Staten Island grand jury acquitted NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, banking and financial services giant BNP Paribas S.A. (BNPP) was able to delay sentencing that would force it to pay $8.9 billion for pleading guilty to violating U.S. sanctions regulations.
Nobody at the global banking giant is likely to be prosecuted, and nobody will serve time.
Cases such as this reflect the starkly different prosecutory worlds available to those with money, influence and privilege, and those without, such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
With over $2.5 trillion in assets, BNPP is the fourth largest bank in the world in terms of assets. The closest comparable U.S. bank in terms of size is Bank of America, which is the 12th largest bank in the world.
BNPP was charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) for conspiring with other banks and banking institutions that are located within or controlled by Cuba, Iran or Sudan — countries currently subject to U.S. economic sanctions. The Justice Department has stated that over the course of eight years, the bank “knowingly and willfully” moved more than $8.8 billion through the U.S. financial system on behalf of those countries. The bank pleaded guilty to concealing the sanctioned countries’ involvement in the movement of money through the United States, as well as concealing its own role in those economic transactions.
The forfeiture of almost $9 billion has created a budget surplus for New York state, which will receive more than $5 billion from the settlement, along with a settlement from the Credit Suisse Group AG, which pleaded guilty to helping Americans evade taxes.
While BNPP has yet to be sentenced for crimes involving billions of dollars, thousands of people across the U.S. are subject to a radically different set of standards with regards to the law. Eric Garner is one such example.