According to New York’s financial regulator, Standard Chartered Bank schemed with the Iranian government to launder $US250 billion from 2001 to 2007, leaving the United States’ financial system “vulnerable to terrorists”.
The State Department of Financial Services has labelled UK-based Standard Chartered, as a “rogue institution”, and quoted one of its executives as saying: “You (expletive) Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians.”
The bank conspired with its Iranian clients to route nearly 60,000 different US dollar payments through Standard Chartered’s New York branch “after first stripping information from wire transfer messages used to identify sanctioned countries, individuals and entities”, the agency reports.
In a nine month investigation, involving looking through more than 30,000 pages of documents, including Standard Chartered Bank internal emails, the regulator said they uncovered the bank reaped “hundreds of millions of dollars in fees”.
”SCB’s actions left the US 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,” it said.
The state agency reports that between 2004 and 2007, Standard Chartered hid from and lied about its Iranian transactions to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Before 2008, banks were allowed to transact some business with Iran, but only with full reporting and disclosure, and these transactions were stopped by the US treasury because it suspected they helped pay for Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
The bank has been ordered to provide information and answer to the regulator, to determine if any of its funding aided Iran’s nuclear program.
If proven, the scheme would violate state money-laundering laws. The bank is also accused of falsifying business records, obstructing governmental administration, failing to report misconduct to the state quickly, evading federal sanctions and other illegal acts.