British banking giant Standard Chartered plc is paying US$1.1 billion to authorities in the U.S. and the U.K. to resolve allegations that it didn’t properly guard against money laundering and sanctions breaches.
The bank announced on April 9 that it is paying US$947 million to address investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the District Attorney for New York County, the New York State Department of Financial Services, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury. It’s also paying £102 million to the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The FCA says it “found serious and sustained shortcomings” in the bank’s anti-money laundering (AML) controls, and that it observed significant shortcomings in its internal assessments of the adequacy of its AML controls, which exposed the bank to the risk of breaching sanctions and increased the risk of it receiving the proceeds of crime.
“Standard Chartered’s oversight of its financial crime controls was narrow, slow and reactive,” said Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA.
“These breaches are especially serious because they occurred against a backdrop of heightened awareness within the broader, global community, as well as within the bank, and after receiving specific attention from the FCA, U.S. agencies and other global bodies about these risks,” Steward added.
In a statement, the bank says that it “accepts full responsibility for the violations and control deficiencies” set out in its resolutions with the authorities, and stressed that it has invested heavily in the past several years to beef up its financial crime compliance efforts.
The bank took a $900 million provision in the fourth quarter of 2018 to address these issues, and says that it will take a another $190 million charge in the first quarter of 2019.
It also says it fully cooperated with the various investigations, and that the “vast majority” of the allegations came before 2012, and none happened after 2014.
“Fighting financial crime is central to what we do and who we are; we do not tolerate misconduct or lax controls and we will continue to root out any issues that threaten the trust we have built over more than 160 years,” said Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered.