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It imposed huge fines on foreign banks for money-laundering and sanctions-busting; in 2014 a $9bn penalty against BNP Paribas shook the French establishment. Mr Trump has taken the weaponisation of finance to a new level.

(https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/01/18/americas-aggressive-use-of-sanctions-endangers-the-dollars-reign)

I looked up the word on some dictionaries but it has so many meanings that I couldn't find a suitable one. I guess it refers to BNP Paribas itselt but I'm not sure.

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    Welcome to ELL! Please share what research you have already done, and what you found that confused you. What do you think the answer might be? (To improve your question, use the Edit button on your question and add details, please.) Please read the "Contributor's Guide to ELL" and Details Please. Keep contributing and welcome! Jan 21 '20 at 10:39
  • Thank you for your comment, whiskeychief.
    – Roo
    Jan 21 '20 at 11:59
  • It doers not refer to BNP Paribas. Jan 21 '20 at 12:37
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The phrase the establishment in a nation (here, France) or a society or organisation, means the powerful senior people, especially those who approve of the way that society is currently set up (established):

the establishment

the important and powerful people who control a country or an organization, especially those who support the existing situation:

Critics said judges were on the side of the establishment.

The establishment (Cambridge Dictionary)

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    It is sometimes claimed that this usage of 'establishment' was invented by the journalist Henry Fairlie in the 1960s. There was a satirical club called "The Establishment Club" in London at that time. In fact the word was used in precisely the sense given by @MichaelHarvey in the novels of Anthony Trollope in the mid-nineteenth century.
    – JeremyC
    Jan 21 '20 at 23:01
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, too, in 1841. Jan 23 '20 at 20:05

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