Government eyeing big bills in bank probes

Federal and state regulators are reportedly looking to extract billions of dollars from a pair of banks to settle wide-ranging charges.

The Justice Department and New York regulators are nearing deals with Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas to settle charges of tax evasion and skirting U.S. sanctions, respectively. And according to media reports, the government is seeking some eye-popping sums from the two.

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Reuters reported Monday that federal and state regulators are seeking up to $2 billion from Credit Suisse. New York regulators are seeking to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from the bank, while the Justice Department is reportedly eyeing up to $1.6 billion.

The Swiss bank was recently the target of a probe from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which charged it help thousands of wealthy Americans hide up to $12 billion in assets from the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the government wants BNP Paribas to pay over $3.5 billion from BNP Paribas to settle charges it helped skirt U.S. economic sanctions with a host of nations like Iran and Sudan.

In both cases, the Justice Department is also reportedly pushing the banks to plead guilty to some charges, as Attorney General Eric Holder looks to dampen criticism the government has taken a soft approach with big banks.

Earlier this month, Holder said he was personally overseeing cases being built against big banks, and emphasized that no institution was “too big to jail.”

"To be clear, no individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law,” he said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website.

While the government has reached a number of civil settlements from banks stemming from actions leading up to the financial crisis, no criminal charges have been filed against top bank executives or institutions. Many critics on the left have pushed the Obama administration to take a tougher stance.