The European bank has several Achilles heels and one of them is in the United States, the place on the planet where more fines are received by the entities of the Old Continent. As a whole, European banks have assumed an invoice for 16,455 million dollars (14,651 million euros) between 2012 and 2018 in relation to fines for vulnerabilities in the fight against money laundering or for infringing commercial sanctions, according to Moody's agency estimates.
Of this figure, 91.6% corresponds to the sanctions imposed by the US on European banks, which reach an aggregate amount of 15,077 million dollars (13,425 million euros), of which around 12,000 million dollars (10,686 million euros), 73% of the total, have been set by the US Department of Justice.
According to the data of the rating agency, in the analyzed period the highest sanction corresponds to the French bank BNP Paribas, fined with 8,900 million dollars (7,926 million euros) in 2014 for violating the sanctions regime imposed by the United States in relation to transactions for the benefit of entities of Cuba, Iran and Sudan.
Following the French bank, there are sanctions of 1,900 million dollars (1,692 million euros), imposed by the DoJ on the British HSBC for deficiencies in their money laundering control systems, and of 1,450 million dollars (1,291 million euros) paid in 2015 by the German Commerzbank to five US agencies for facilitating financial transactions to countries included in the US sanctions regime.
For its part, the highest fine imposed by regulators of the Old Continent is 915 million dollars (815 million euros) with which the Dutch authorities sanctioned ING Group in 2018 for the vulnerabilities detected in its anti-money laundering system.
"The majority of these fines have been lower than the annual gross profit of the banks," the risk rating agency acknowledges, noting that, except in the case of BNP Paribas in 2014, the rest of the entities were able to absorb the impact of the penalties on results before taxes for the year.
The agency also notes that several investigations are currently under way to European entities related to the fight against money laundering and the violation of sanctions, including the cases of Swedbank and Danske Bank, as well as ING Italia.