Business, Economics and Jobs

Standard Chartered Bank allegedly enabled Iranian institutions to conceal about 60,000 financial transactions


Standard Chartered Bank CEO Peter Sands participates in a panel on Financial Inclusion at the Business 20 in the framework of the G20 Leaders Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, on June 18, 2012.


Cris Bouroncle

The New York State Department of Financial Services has accused Standard Chartered Bank (SBC) of deliberately concealing about 60,000 financial transactions with Iranian banks and corporations, the New York Times reported. The regulator estimates at least $250 billion was transacted. 

The accusation is based on an investigation of over 30,000 pages of bank documents and internal SCB e-mails that are said to prove "willful and egregious violations of law."   

The order sent to the bank today said:

"For almost ten years, SCB schemed with the Government of Iran and hid from regulators roughly 60,000 secret transactions, involving at least $250 billion, and reaping SCB hundreds of millions of dollars in fees. SCB’s actions left the U.S. financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes, and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity." 

SCB is accused of:

 1. Falsifying business records
 2. Offering false instruments for filing
 3. Failing to maintain accurate books and records of all transactions effected and all actions taken on behalf of SCB
 4. Obstructing governmental administration
 5. Failing to report misconduct to the Department in a timely manner
 6. Numerous other violations of law that, as with the above, have an impact upon the safety and soundness of SCB’s New York branch and the Department’s confidence in SCB’s character, credibility and fitness as a financial institution licensed to conduct business under the laws of this State 

A spokesman for SCB said the bank would review its “historical U.S. sanctions compliance and is discussing that review with U.S. enforcement agencies and regulators,” according to the New York Times

Reuters reported that a Standard Chartered official in London had been warned by a North American coworker that dealing with Iran could cause "catastrophic reputational damage." The London official reportedly answered:

"You f---ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we're not going to deal with Iranians."

The United States, concerned that Iran uses its banks to support a secret nuclear program, has issued strict economic sanctions against the country. 

These accusations come just after HSBC, another British bank, was slapped with a $27.5 million fine for laundering money for Iran and Mexican drug cartels, among others.