US senator urges further action against bank
A LEADING US senator has asked other regulators to find the “backbone” to take action against Standard Chartered following the London-based bank’s $340 million settlement in New York over sanctions breaches with Iran.
Carl Levin said yesterday the steps taken by the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) that had forced Standard Chartered to agree to the civil penalty showed it was not necessary to go through years of negotiation.
“The agency . . . showed that holding a bank accountable for past misconduct doesn’t need to take years of negotiation over the size of the penalty: it simply requires a regulator with backbone to act,” said Levin, who last month in a gruelling public hearing accused HSBC of a “pervasively polluted” culture in laundering money for drug cartels and terrorists.
Standard Chartered’s share price rose on the FTSE 100 yesterday even as the bank attempted to broker a settlement with other regulators.
It could face further fines from the US justice department and the US treasury, which are both investigating sanctions breaches that allegedly took place between 2001 and 2007.
Settlements could come as soon as next week.
Annemarie McAvoy, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at Fordham Law School in New York, said the pressure was on after the DFS moved alone to level charges.
“Given that New York extracted $340 million, the other regulators will undoubtedly have to come up with similar resolutions,” she said.
Even though the bank’s shares rose 4 per cent to £14.26, chief executive Peter Sands remains under pressure, as they have slumped from £16 since the DFS made the damning charges last Monday.
Benjamin Lawsky, head of the DFS, claimed that Standard Chartered schemed to hide 60,000 transactions, valued at about $250 billion, that breached sanctions with Iran.
Mr Sands admitted to only 300 such breaches, at a value of about $14 million.
Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St John’s University in New York, said Standard Chartered was “far from out of the woods”, but he expected federal investigations to continue in a more low-key manner. He said Lawsky had acted “like the Lone Ranger”. – (Guardian service)