Report: Justice eyeing $10 billion bank penalty

The Justice Department is reportedly seeking more than $10 billion from the French bank BNP Paribas to settle charges it helped nations like Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the government is pushing for one of the largest penalties ever imposed on a bank, although it said the bank is pushing to keep the penalty below $8 billion.

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The bank has been the subject of a long-running probe by the U.S. government, which charges that it helped a host of nations like Iran and Sudan evade U.S. sanctions. BNP announced it February it had set aside $1.1 billion for a potential settlement but later said that number could be insufficient.

The push comes amid an effort by Attorney General Eric Holder to prove the U.S. government is willing to crack down on major banks and put to bed the notion a major institution is “too big to jail.”

Several Democrats have been critical of the administration’s handling of bad actors in the financial market following the 2008 crisis, arguing that too few executives and institutions have been held accountable for their role in the meltdown.

In response, Holder has said he is personally overseeing a number of probes into major financial institutions.

“There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail,’” he said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website earlier this month. “To be clear, no individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law.”

On May 19, the Swiss bank Credit Suisse agreed to pay $2.6 billion and plead guilty to helping U.S. clients evade taxes.