Banking boss Peter Sands is battling to save his organisation Standard Chartered from further punishments in the US, following recent allegations that the bank engaged in numerous illegal transactions with the Iranian government. Standard was accused of breaking US sanctions imposed upon Iran, with New York State’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) claiming that the bank had “schemed” for 10 years to process up to $250bn of funds for clients in the middle-eastern nation – activity that could have aided terrorists. The DFS even went so far as to describe Standard as a “rogue institution”.
On Monday, Sands decided to intervene personally after the DFS’s attack and fly to New York, maintaining that only $14m of transactions were not compliant with the sanctions. Accountancy firm Deloitte has also become embroiled in the scandal, following subsequent claims that it helped the bank to disguise the illegal transactions – allegations Deloitte denies. A public hearing was averted on Wednesday after Standard Chartered agreed to pay $340m in fines to the DFS.
Talks with the US Treasury, the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and New York State are ongoing, but seem likely to lead to further fines, which some experts predict could add a further $700m to the bill.
Sands appears to have averted the major threat – that of the bank losing its New York licence – and shares have bounced back after a week of movement. It seems that his hands-on approach and quick settlement have, literally, paid dividends… for now. But the true size of the fallout’s footprint remains to be seen.
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