BNP Paribas has reportedly asked at least three US banks to help it clear energy transactions in dollars next year.
That is because the New York banking regulator banned it from that trade for the whole of 2015 for violating US sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran. The suspension was on top of a nearly $9 billion fine.
Sources said the French bank asked JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citi, but that JP Morgan turned them down while talks are ongoing with the others.
Energy trade finance business accounts for around one percent of BNP’s overall revenues and hundreds of jobs.
BNP Paribas, JPMorgan, BAML and Citi declined to comment.
Such a request to other banks is legally permissible. However, experts say banks may be reluctant to clear for BNP Paribas because they could be opening themselves up to risk or the perception of risk which could hurt their reputations.
One said BNP Paribas may also be reluctant to give up as much information as the other bank needs to be comfortable processing transactions, for fear of losing clients.
Any bank temporarily taking on clearing on behalf of BNP would however be able to charge a high rate for the service and they might also gain new clients if switching back to the French bank in 2016 proved complicated or otherwise less desirable, sources familiar with talks said.