Reports claim the US Department of Justice is preparing to take action against the financial firm for breaching sanctions

The Dutch banking and insurance group ING may face serious fines for dealing with sanctioned countries.

The fines would relate to deals with countries that are under economic sanctions by US authorities such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Sudan.

"We don't know how the investigations in the US will pan out and cannot estimate what the fines, if any, will be. Fines could be significant. We are co-operating fully with U.S. authorities," an ING spokesman told reuters.

In its 2010 annual report the company acknowledged that it was under investigation by US authorities. The report states “It is currently not feasible for ING Bank to determine how the ongoing investigations may be resolved or the timing of any such resolution, nor to estimate reliably the possible amounts of any resulting fines and/or penalties, if any, which could be significant.”

Click here for analysis of economic sanctions and see the table below for all sanctioned countries.

countries or regions that have US or UN sanctions

*Ivory Coast
*Democratic republic of Congo
*North Korea