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IMF Praises French Banks, Silent on BNP's Sudan Violations, Lagarde Echo?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 3 -- In the International Monetary Fund's final Article IV consultation report on France issued under embargo on July 3 there is an elephant in the room, or in the report: BNP Paribas, its violations of sanctions and nearly $9 billion fine. Click here for Inner City Press' coverage of the settlement.

  The IMF today says of France that its "Directors observed that the economy and public finances are better shielded from banking shocks thanks to the efforts made by banks to build stronger liquidity and capital buffers and to an improved bank resolution framework. However, they noted that the regulatory framework is still evolving."

 Still evolving away from concealing transactions with Omar al Bashir's Sudan, for example?

  The IMF's eight-page Staff Report mentions BNP only twice: both in charts touting French banks' compliance with Basel III. The 31-page "Selected Issues" does not mention BNP once.

   Then again, now the US Securities & Exchange Commission has given a waiver from BNP suffering the consequences of its actions and plea (click here for a Reuters piece citing Inner City Press' previous work on Chase Manhattan now JPMorgan Chase.)

 In the May 15 initial Article IV consultation report on France, the IMF opined that as "credit demand picks up, the ability of French banks to provide financing to the economy could be constrained. This risk can be mitigated by securitization of bank credit."

   Nevermind that it was securitization without safeguards that triggered the global predatory lending financial meltdown in the first place.

  The IMF report is full of praise for Francois Hollande's new right-leaning policies, for example: "We take note of the renewed emphasis on making the enterprises the engine of growth. Cuts in taxes and social security contributions will enrich the employment content of growth and help enterprises rebuild their competitive capacity, provided they are used to boost investment. And the simplification shock is gaining strength through an approach that is well structured and promises to deliver meaningful gains for the private sector."

  Will this praise be borne out? If French banks do more securitization, who will be helped, and who hurt? And what would Lagarde's IMF say? Are there any safeguards in place?  Who's running for political office in France?

    Back on May 8, while Ukraine and Greece were the subjects of the first six questions taken at the International Monetary Fund's briefing, the IMF impacts countries all over the world. Inner City Press submitted five questions -- on Morocco, Madagascar, Pakistan, Bosnia and Ghana -- the last two of which were read out and answered during the briefing. Video here, filmed from IMF webcast while at UN Security Council stakeout

  Inner City Press also back in May asked: while the Managing Director is in Morocco, can you answer if Western Sahara is included by the IMF in Morocco's data, and what impact the IMF believes the Western Sahara issue has on Morocco's economy and economic prospects?

This last one, Inner City Press also asked a second time, and again more recently on connection with the IMF's Ukraine program. And still no answer. Watch this site.


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