Questionable Advice To BNP On Sanctions Won't Haunt Cleary

Law360, Washington (July 3, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT) -- BNP Paribas SA relied on allegedly incorrect advice from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP when the bank took steps to hide its criminal avoidance of U.S. sanctions, which might raise public relations headaches for the firm but probably won’t rise to malpractice, experts say.

In a statement of facts filed with the blockbuster criminal settlement Monday, federal prosecutors say the bank relied on a 2004 legal opinion from outside counsel “incorrectly” suggesting it could protect itself from U.S. authorities by processing prohibited transactions from countries like Sudan through nonaffiliate U.S. banks.

That advice came from an unnamed entity that prosecutors referred...

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