Experts have warned that Standard Chartered could risk further heavy penalties for sanctions-busting in Iran after reports suggested it continued seeking Iranian business long after it agreed to stop in 2007.
Documents cited by the Financial Times suggest the bank was actively targeting potential Iranian clients in 2009, including the then-sanctioned National Iranian Oil Company.
The report suggests that Standard Chartered was determined to keep working with Iranian businesses as late as 2013 — long after the bank agreed to pay $667 million (£430 million) in fines in 2012 after the US authorities threatened to withdraw its licence to clear dollar transactions.
Such a withdrawal would be catastrophic for a global bank like Standard Chartered, and today’s reports raised the risk of such a drastic punishment again.
Shares in the company fell 18p to 704.7p, highlighting the extent of the problem for chief executive Bill Winters.
Standard Chartered told the Financial Times it was co-operating with US investigations into possible sanctions violations and said it had a number of “legacy obligations” in Iran which it was dealing with appropriately after its decision to exit in 2007.
Ross Denton, partner and sanctions expert at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said: “Quite a few regulators in the US would like to see Standard Chartered’s head on their wall over this issue. Any discussion about a withdrawal of its dollar license would be disastrous.”