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U.S. probe deepens rift in BNP Paribas: WSJ

(Reuters) - BNP Paribas SA's alleged violations of U.S. sanctions have raised questions within the French bank as to whether the chairman and other top executives should resign, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A rift between the bank's traditionally cautious retail division and the more aggressive investment bankers has deepened recently as it emerged that U.S. authorities were pushing the bank to pay more than $10 billion and plead guilty to criminal charges to resolve investigations into the bank, the Journal reported.

Cesaltine Gregorio, the bank's head of media relations for Americas, declined to comment on the Journal report.

U.S. authorities are investigating whether BNP Paribas evaded U.S. sanctions, mainly on Iran, Sudan and Syria, between 2002 and 2009.

Some executives believe BNP Paribas erred by doing business with companies in countries subject to U.S. sanctions while others say the bank is the victim of overzealous U.S. authorities who are using the case to score political points, the Journal said.

France has been protesting possible U.S. fines and French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday he will raise concerns about the matter when he meets U.S. counterpart Barack Obama later this week.

(Reporting By Sudarshan Varadhan)

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