Barclays to pay $298m to settle US sanctions case; judge critical of 'sweetheart deal'

Barclays to pay $298m to settle US sanctions case; judge critical of 'sweetheart deal'

Barclays is set to pay $298 million to settle criminal charges that it violated US sanctions by facilitating payments for Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma, among others.

The bank will pay $149 million to the US government and another $149 million in an agreement with the Manhattan district attorney's office.

According to the Wall Street Journal, documents filed in a Washington Court show that between 1995 and 2005, Barclays facilitated and hid payments amounting to $500 million for banks and other entities in countries facing US economic sanctions.

Prosecutors say the bank amended and reformatted payment messages, routed transactions through an internal account, and omitted sanctioned entities' names in payment messages sent to its New York branch and other financial institutions in the US, to hide the source.

Barclays voluntarily disclosed four transactions that violated sanctions in 2006 and began cooperating with a review by federal and state prosecutors in 2007.

The proposed settlement has to be approved by US federal judge Emmet Sullivan, who has questioned the severity of the settlement at a hearing on Tuesday. "This is a sweetheart deal," he told the court, adding that the average American citizen who gets caught robbing a bank is not entitled to a deferred prosecution agreement.

The Barclays judgement comes after similar agreements reached by Lloyds and Credit Suisse, which paid $350 million and $536 million respectively last year.

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