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SocGen pays $1.3B to settle bribery, rate-rigging probes

Federal authorities slapped French bank Société Générale with more than $1.3 billion in fines on Monday for bribing the regime of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and for rigging global interest rates.

The largest of the fines, $585 million, was paid to both US and French authorities to settle charges that the third-largest French bank, for five years through 2009, paid a Libyan “broker” at the country’s sovereign wealth fund $90 million in bribes in order to secure $3.66 billion in business from the murderous regime, according to the DOJ settlement.

The bank earned $523 million in profits through 14 different investments, as well as a restructuring of an unspecified state business, according to prosecutors.

The bank, known as SocGen, has set aside cash reserves for the expected settlement — which has to be approved by a judge.

The US investigation was led by the Justice Department in conjunction with French authorities.

“For years, Société Générale undermined the integrity of global markets and foreign institutions by issuing false financial data and by fraudulently securing contracts through bribery,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan said in a statement.

A representative for the bank is scheduled to plead guilty to one charge of bribery in Brooklyn federal court on Monday.

In addition to the Libya-related charges, the bank will pay $750 million in fines and restitution to the DOJ and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission for its role in rigging Libor in 2011, according to the DOJ.

The bank had manipulated the rate in order to make the bank look healthier than it really was, and so that traders at the bank could make more money on deals that depended on the rate being kept lower, according to the indictment.

The DOJ has indicted two of the bank’s executives, Global Treasury head Danielle Sindzingre and former Paris Treasury Head Muriel Bescond — but the two executive remain at large outside the US, according to the DOJ.

The settlement with SocGen, a mid-tier bank in the US, comes a year after the bank settled similar currency rigging charges for $18 million.

The settlement is the latest against a French bank for illegally doing business with a state sponsor of terrorism. SocGen rival BNP Paribas paid nearly $9 billion in 2014 settlements for aiding Iran and Sudan.

Jim Galvin, a spokesman for SocGen, said that the bank has taken steps to improve its compliance and that no monitor will be installed to oversee the bank. He added that “these payments will have no impact on Société Générale’s results.”

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