Standard Chartered has been ordered to pay $1.1bn (£842m) by US and UK authorities to settle allegations of poor money-laundering controls and breaching sanctions against countries including Iran.
The British bank has agreed to pay $947m to American agencies, including the US Department of Justice, over allegations that it violated sanctions against a string of countries.
Separately, it was fined £102m by the Financial Conduct Authority for anti-money-laundering breaches that included “shortcomings” in its counter-terrorism finance controls in the Middle East. It is the second-largest fine ever imposed by the UK regulator for anti-money-laundering failures.
The US treasury department said the latest fines settled “apparent violations” of sanctions imposed against Burma, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Sudan, Syria, and Iran.
It said Standard Chartered processed transactions worth $438m between 2009 and 2014, the majority of which involved Iran-linked accounts from its Dubai branch routing payments through, or to, its New York office or other US-based banks.
The fines were widely expected after Standard Chartered said in February it had set aside $900m (£691m) to cover US and UK penalties. However, the final settlements will force the bank to take a further $190m hit in its first-quarter results, which it will report on 30 April.
Standard Chartered said it “accepts full responsibility for the violations and control deficiencies”, adding that the “vast majority” of the alleged incidents took place before 2012. None of the breaches occurred after 2014, it added.
But the bank, which is headquartered in London but focused on Asia, the Middle East and Africa, placed partial blame on two former junior employees, who were “aware of certain customers’ Iranian connections and conspired with them to break the law, deceive the group and violate its policies”. Standard Chartered said: “Such behaviour is wholly unacceptable to the group.”
Bill Winters, the chief executive, said: “We are pleased to have resolved these matters and to put these historical issues behind us. The circumstances that led to today’s resolutions are completely unacceptable and not representative of the Standard Chartered I am proud to lead today.”
US assistant attorney general, Brian Benczkowski, said: “[This] sends a clear message to financial institutions and their employees: if you circumvent US sanctions against rogue states like Iran – or assist those who do – you will pay a steep price.”
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had raised concerns about anti-money-laundering controls at Standard Chartered’s UK-based correspondent bank and its United Arab Emirates branches. It highlighted “serious shortcomings” in customer due diligence and said the bank also failed to ensure its UAE branches applied proper counter-terrorist financing controls.
The FCA gave examples where a customer was able to open an account by handing over around 3m UAE dirham (£500,000) in cash in a suitcase, with little evidence that the source of the cash was investigated. It also said Standard Chartered failed to collect sufficient information on a customer exporting goods that could have a “military application” to regions involved in armed conflict.
The prospect of major fines have hung over Standard Chartered since 2012, when it entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US Department of Justice and the New York county district attorney’s office over Iranian sanctions breaches beyond 2007.