Standard Chartered fined $340m over multi-billion dollar Iran deals

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The bank could face a huge fine and even its state banking licence is under threat, a punishment that would paralyse its US operations and relegate the London-listed institution to the second tier of global banks. Photo – Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Standard Chartered Plc said on Wednesday it will pay $340 million to New York’s bank regulator over transactions linked to Iran, as part of the ‘civil penalty’ for hiding 60,000 transactions with proscribed Iranian clients worth $25 billion over ten years.

The clients included the state-backed Central Bank of Iran and the National Bank of Iran, both accused by Washington of helping Tehran seek nuclear weapons and fund terrorism.

The deal with New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky still left the British bank facing a separate probe of Iran-linked transactions by other US authorities.

Standard Chartered agreed to house a government anti-laundering monitor for two years at its New York branch under the terms of the settlement with New York’s Department of Financial Services.

On Tuesday, AFP quoted a Treasury Department official as saying that the settlement would not halt its own investigation.

“Our investigation continues. Treasury will continue working with our regulatory and law enforcement partners to hold Standard Chartered accountable for any sanctionable activity that occurred,” an official said.

The Department of Justice said it would also continue to “determine what actions might be appropriate.”

Standard Chartered hinted that settlements may also be reached there, saying “the timing of any resolution will be communicated in due course.”

The bank’s shares rose 2.74% to close at 1,370 pence on Tuesday, before Lawsky’s announcement.

Lloyds Banking Group and Credit Suisse Group have previously agreed to pay settlements of $350 million and $536 million, respectively. ING Bank NV paid a settlement of $619 million. HSBC Holdings Plc currently is under investigation by US law enforcement, according to bank regulatory filings.

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