July 8, 2014 / 3:29 PM / 5 years ago

Belgium seeks meeting with France's BNP to discuss $9 billion U.S. fine

Belgium's Finance Minister Koen Geens arrives at a cabinet meeting on banking reforms in Brussels November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium’s finance minister asked the head of French bank BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) on Tuesday for a meeting to discuss the implications of a record $9 billion fine for violating U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

Belgium has a 10.3 percent stake in BNP Paribas, which pleaded guilty last week to two criminal charges and agreed to pay the fine to resolve accusations it violated U.S. sanctions.

The punishment was aimed at sending a clear message to other financial institutions around the world.

Belgian Finance Minister Koen Geens said he had asked the chief executive of BNP Paribas, Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, to meet him soon in Brussels.

“He wants to learn clearly the lessons that management and all competent bodies draw from what happened, including for shareholder transparency,” a statement on the minister’s web site said.

Geens had sent Bonnafe a letter making clear the concern caused “by the nature and gravity of the facts”, the statement said.

Geens also called for discretion in public statements about the future of Belgium’s stake in BNP Paribas.

“As already stressed several times, the state does not intend to remain a shareholder in banks. However, a decision on the sale of this kind of stake should be taken in a calm atmosphere by a fully fledged government,” the statement said.

Belgium is trying to form a coalition government after elections in May.

Reporting by Martin Santa; editing by Jane Baird

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