The British bank Standard Chartered has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle allegations by the authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom that it violated anti-money laundering laws and economic sanctions.
The authorities, including the Treasury and Department of Justice as well as New York State regulators and prosecutors, said that Standard Chartered had for years processed hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions from countries banned from participating in the American financial system, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. Standard Chartered, which is based in London, has extensive operations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The settlement is the latest to produce a large penalty against a European bank caught processing illicit transactions for sanctioned countries and criminal enterprises.
In 2012, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion and to submit to years of heightened scrutiny after the authorities found that the bank had helped Mexican drug cartels launder money. In 2014, the French bank BNP Paribas in 2014 paid a record sum of nearly $9 billion and pleaded guilty for violating American sanctions against Sudan and other countries. And two years ago, Deutsche Bank was fined $630 million for helping Russian investors secretly move $10 billion through branches in London, Moscow and New York.
Standard Chartered itself has been punished in the recent past; it paid $330 million in 2012 after carrying out transactions for Iran in violation of United States sanctions.
The conduct that led to the current fine against Standard Chartered — including failing to adequately vet its clients and the source of their money — occurred from 2009 to 2014. In one instance cited by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority, a Standard Chartered office in the United Arab Emirates accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash brought into the country in a suitcase by a foreign consul in 2011.
The authorities gave Standard Chartered credit for moving to rectify its misdeeds. Since the wrongdoing occurred, the bank has “taken significant remedial measures since 2014 to develop a more robust program to prevent these egregious activities,” Linda A. Lacewell, New York State’s acting financial services superintendent, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The changes included the hiring of a new chief executive, William T. Winters. In a statement, he said: “We are pleased to have resolved these matters and to put these historical issues behind us.”