BNP Paribas to pay nearly $9 billion penalty

French bank BNP Paribas pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges for breaching U.S. sanctions and will pay a record penalty of almost $9 billion. The settlement concludes a long-running criminal investigation into allegations that BNP Paribas (BNPQF) violated U.S. money laundering laws by helping clients dodge sanctions on Iran, Sudan and other countries. The deal between the bank and prosecutors had been expected for months. Shares in the bank edged higher Monday in Paris, having fallen more than 12% so far this year in anticipation. In an agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the bank pleaded guilty to falsifying business records and conspiracy in Manhattan Supreme Court. It is expected to plead guilty for violating money laundering laws in federal court with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara next week. The bank also agreed to a sanction by the New York department of financial services. It will suspend certain U.S. dollar clearing transaction services through its New York branch for one year. BNP Paribas said it would clear U.S. dollars “through a third-party bank instead of clearing through BNP Paribas New York.” About 30 employees will leave BNP Paribas as a result of the investigation, including several who have gone already, according to a U.S. official. “We deeply regret the past misconduct that led to this settlement. The failures that have come to light in the course of this investigation run contrary to the principles on which BNP Paribas has always sought to operate,” said Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, CEO of BNP Paribas. “We have announced today a comprehensive plan to strengthen our internal controls and processes,” he said. The bank will take a new charge of 5.6 billion euros ($7.7 billion) as a result of the fine, and cap its 2014 dividend at last year’s level. It had previously set aside