Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN) -- one of Britain's biggest financial institutions -- could face over $100 million in penalties after the New York State Department of Financial Services, or DFS, said that the bank had failed to detect potentially high-risk transactions in its American operations, according to media reports Wednesday.
The problem, which was detected by Ellen Zimiles, a DFS monitor at the bank, was allegedly caused by a technical glitch in its computer systems. Zimiles detected millions of transactions -- originating in regions considered vulnerable to money laundering -- that should have been flagged for further review but were not, the New York Times reported. However, it wasn’t clear if any of the undetected transactions were instances of money laundering or were in any way illegal, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.
Benjamin Lawsky, New York State’s Superintendent of Financial Services, is reportedly in talks with Standard Chartered officials over a potential settlement, which is likely to range between $100 million and $340 million. The actual settlement could be disclosed Wednesday when the bank releases its quarterly earnings report, according to the Journal.
Peter Sands, the bank’s CEO, who has reportedly been meeting with DFS officials to discuss the settlement, has argued that the bank's lapses were not deliberate attempts to flout the law and were inadvertent technical problems.
The latest investigations into the bank’s operations come two years after it was fined $340 million for doing business with countries like Iran and Sudan, which had been blacklisted by the U.S. In a statement released in 2012, the DFS had said that Standard Chartered had, between “January 2001 and 2007...provided U.S. dollar clearing services to Iranian state and privately owned banks, corporations, and individuals.”
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Lawsky had, at the time, issued a regulatory order, calling the bank a “rogue institution” that indulged in illicit deals with countries that were “sponsoring international terrorism...and then covered up its transgressions."
Standard Chartered, which derives about 90 percent of its profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, reported a 20 percent drop in its half-yearly profits for 2014, according to a BBC report Wednesday.