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Standard Chartered to pay $330 mn to settle US Iran probe

December 06, 2012

Branch of Standard Chartered Bank — File Photo
Branch of Standard Chartered Bank — AFP (File Photo)

HONG KONG: British bank Standard Chartered said on Thursday it expects to pay around $330 million to settle with US authorities “very shortly” over allegations it violated sanctions on Iran.

The sum comes on top of a $340 million fine it paid in August to settle a case in New York state, where regulators had accused it of hiding some $250 billion in transactions with Iranian banks, charges denied by the lender.

“The group remains in active and constructive discussions with the other US agencies on the resolution of the group's historical US sanctions compliance,” Standard Chartered said.

“We anticipate that these discussions will conclude very shortly and are likely to result in the group paying a sum of approximately $330 million,” it added in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, where it is listed.

The latest settlement would conclude investigations by the US Justice Department, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Manhattan district attorney's office, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

The alleged transactions mainly involved US dollar transfers for state-owned Iranian banks, including the central bank, that fell under US sanctions aimed at curtailing Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

The New York Department of Financial Services said in August that the activity “left the US financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes”.

The London-based but Asia-focused bank also said it expects to report a full year “high single digit” revenue growth, slower than the 12 per cent increase it posted in 2011.

Group chief executive Peter Sands nevertheless called them a “strong set of full year results”, amid the uncertain global economic outlook.

“We continue to see significant opportunities across our markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” Sands said in a statement.

Standard Chartered, which survived the global financial crisis without state assistance, has a strong footprint across emerging markets.

Its 2011 net profit, which rose 12 per cent year-on-year to a record $4.75 billion was boosted by strong performance in developing economies.

Growth momentum however has slowed this year due to a slowdown in Asian economies and the US dollar strength against Asian currencies. Standard Chartered reports its results in US dollar terms.