The New York Times reported today that US Federal Prosecutors are close to laying criminal charges against “some of the world’s biggest banks”.

They name Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas as two who are close to guilty pleas for facilitating tax evasion and doing business with blacklisted countries, respectively.

They say negotiations continue but a guilty plea could prompt the revocation of the bank’s charter, the corporate equivalent of the death penalty although that sounds unlikely. Still, criminal charges could put a chill on the industry, or at least a chill on banking stocks.