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France's Societe Generale hit with $1.3B in U.S. fines

WASHINGTON - One of France's largest banks, Societe Generale, is pleading guilty in the U.S. and paying a total of $1.3 billion in penalties, including a $585 million fine for bribing Libyan officials to win government investments. The bank is also paying $750 million to settle U.S. charges of manipulating a key global interest rate.

The actions were announced by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Under an agreement with the Justice Department, Societe Generale will avoid criminal prosecution on charges of manipulating the London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, and will pay a $275 million fine. The bank is paying a $475 million civil penalty in a separate settlement with the CFTC.

"Together with approximately $475 million in regulatory penalties and disgorgement that Société Générale has agreed to pay to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in connection with the LIBOR scheme, the total penalties to be paid by the bank exceed $1 billion," the Justice Department said in a press release

"For years, Société Générale undermined the integrity of global markets and foreign institutions by issuing false financial data and by fraudulently securing contracts through bribery," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan in the release. "Today's resolution -- which marks the first coordinated resolution with France in a foreign bribery case -- sends a strong message that transnational corruption and manipulation of our markets will be met with a global and coordinated law enforcement response."

Societe Generale will plead guilty Tuesday in federal court to violating U.S. laws against foreign bribery between 2004 and 2009. In first-quarter 2018, Societe General reported a net income of 1.3 billion euros on revenue of 6.2 billion euros. The bank said the fines have been provided for and "will have no impact on Societe Generale's results."

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