Updated Thursday, August 27, 2015 as of 10:15 PM ET

BNP Paribas Punishment Seen Eclipsing Past U.S. Sanctions Cases

(Bloomberg) -- BNP Paribas SA’s settlement talks with the U.S. over sanctions violations have headed out of the ballpark, compared with previous punishments levied by the Obama administration in such cases.

The U.S. has been said to seek more than $5 billion or even $10 billion during talks in the past month -- a penalty higher than the combined $4.9 billion levied against 21 other banks for transactions tied to sanctioned countries since President Barack Obama took office.

An accord of such a magnitude, described by people familiar with the talks, would eclipse BP Plc’s record $4 billion settlement of criminal allegations last year. Prosecutors are pressuring the BNP Paribas parent company to plead guilty to moving funds for clients in violation of sanctions against Sudan, Iran and Cuba, the people have said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.

“I think law enforcement is seeing that a $1 billion, $2 billion or $3 billion fine is not necessarily material or fatal to these organizations,” James Odell, a former general counsel at a UBS AG unit, said in an interview. “If the number is seen as insignificant, there’s going to be a lot of backlash.”

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