Standard Chartered has been ordered to pay a total of $1.1 billion by US and UK authorities to settle allegations of poor money laundering controls and sanctions breaching.
The British bank will pay $947M to American agencies, including the US Department of Justice, over allegations that it violated sanctions against Burma, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Iran.
In the UK, it has been fined £102M by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for anti-money-laundering breaches; including shortcomings in its counter-terrorism finance controls in the Middle East. It is the second-largest fine ever imposed by the FCA for money laundering failures.
The fines had been expected, with Standard Chartered saying two months ago that it had put $900M aside to cover US and UK penalties.
In a statement, Standard Chartered said it "accepts full responsibility for the violations and control deficiencies". It has put some of the blame on two former junior employees whose behaviour, it has said, was "wholly unacceptable''.
Seven years ago, Standard Chartered paid $667M to settle US allegations of sanctions breaches between 2001 and 2007. That year, 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.
That DPA was due to expire last week. But it has now been extended until April 2021. This effectively means that Standard Chartered is on probation and could be criminally prosecuted if it breaks the law.
A lax approach towards anti-money laundering will inevitably attract the interest of the authorities, especially with the level of coordination between agencies in different countries. Accepting the fines as the cost of business can no longer be the approach for Standard Chartered as criminal prosecution will follow if there are no significant improvements.
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