French bank BNP is reported to have tried an 'advice of counsel' defence, referring to a leading US law firm Martin Good
The bank is reported to have shown the US prosecutors a memo from the practice which said that some transactions could be undertaken for Sudan if employees in New York were not involved. The New York Times says that the memo came from a ‘well-respected firm based in the United States’. However, the prosecutors are said to have rejected this defence, saying that advice-of-counsel argument works only over a short period, not for transactions which are carried out repeatedly over a longer period.
The size of the fine is so large that French President Francois Holland has written to US President Barak Obama to say that the company should not be treated unfairly. Source: ABA