France’s Hol­lande crit­i­cises huge US fines against cor­po­rate Europe

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande on yes­ter­day ac­cused the United States of abus­ing its power by de­mand­ing multi-bil­lion dol­lar fines from Euro­pean com­pa­nies while shield­ing its own firms.

In an in­ter­view, Hol­lande said the fines most re­cently $14 bil­lion against Ger­many’s Deutsche Bank for sell­ing toxic mort­gage­backed se­cu­ri­ties in the United States were one rea­son why he could not sup­port a US/EU free-trade deal. “When the (Euro­pean) Com­mis­sion goes af­ter Google or dig­i­tal gi­ants which do not pay the taxes they should in Europe, Amer­ica takes of­fence,” the So­cial­ist leader told L’Obs mag­a­zine six months be­fore pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. “And yet, they quite shame­lessly de­mand 8 bil­lion from BNP or 5 bil­lion from Deutsche Bank.”

Hol­lande’s com­ment con­trasted with the far more muted re­ac­tion from Ber­lin. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble said in Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day there had been “far too much talk” about Deutsche Bank since the fine was im­posed. Deutsche Bank has said it does not ex­pect to pay the full $14 bil­lion and is ne­go­ti­at­ing a fi­nal sum with Wash­ing­ton. It has set aside 5.5 bil­lion eu­ros ($6.16 bil­lion) to cover all on­go­ing lit­i­ga­tion cases against it.

The Depart­ment of Jus­tice has also pe­nal­ized ma­jor US banks over mis-sell­ing MBS, with the high­est fine, of $5.9 bil­lion, levied against Bank of Amer­ica. BNP was fined for vi­o­lat­ing US sanc­tions against Iran and Su­dan. The French pres­i­dent said Europe should adopt the same tools to be able to sanc­tion Amer­i­can com­pa­nies.

Google is ex­pected to face a large fine from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for com­pe­ti­tion vi­o­la­tions, while the EU ex­ec­u­tive or­dered iPhone maker Ap­ple to pay up to 13 bil­lion eu­ros in back taxes in Au­gust.

Hol­lande’s com­ments come days af­ter a French par­lia­men­tary re­port crit­i­cized what it called in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive use by the United States of ex­tra-ter­ri­to­rial laws that have cost Euro­pean com­pa­nies bil­lions in fines and other set­tle­ments.

Since 2009, Euro­pean banks have paid about $16 bil­lion to the United States over breaches of sanc­tion regimes and Euro­pean firms have ac­counted for 14 of the 15 big­gest penal­ties handed down, the re­port said. In the in­ter­view Hol­lande, France’s most un­pop­u­lar pres­i­dent on record, stuck to a De­cem­ber dead­line to an­nounce if he will run for a sec­ond term. —Reuters

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