International review Investigation

SocGen investigated over possible French anti-corruption law breach

French bank Societe Generale logo is seen on the facade of a building in Paris, November 7, 2013. Source: REUTERS/ Jacky Naegelen.

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Societe Generale said the French financial prosecutor had opened a preliminary investigation into possible violations by the bank of French anti-corruption laws, and had requested documents on its ties with the Libyan Investment Authority.

Earlier this year Societe Generale agreed to pay nearly 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to settle a long-running dispute with the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), avoiding a costly and potentially embarrassing court case.

LIA, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, had presented allegations that trades were secured as part of a “fraudulent and corrupt scheme” involving the payment of $58.5 million by SocGen to a Panama-registered company.

The bank said in an update to its 2016 annual report published on Monday, that in September and October 2017 it had received judicial requests from the French financial prosecutor.

“Societe Generale also received two judicial requests to produce documents regarding its relations with the LIA in the scope of a preliminary investigation opened by the French National Financial Prosecutor’s office regarding possible violations of French anticorruption laws,” it said.

A spokesman for SocGen declined to comment further on Tuesday.

SocGen is also currently in discussions with U.S. authorities in order to reach an agreement to resolve an investigation into potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in connection with certain transactions involving Libyan counterparts, including the Libyan Investment Authority.

“Any such agreement would include a requirement that Societe Generale pay a monetary fine and may in addition impose other sanctions,” the bank said in the update, adding that it was impossible to determine with certainty the amount of the fine.

“It is possible, without it being certain, that the pending discussions lead to an agreement in the next weeks or months”.

The bank had 2.2 billion euros in litigation provisions as of end-September.