New York - Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) was accused on Monday by New York state regulators of hiding $250bn in allegedly illegal transactions with Iran for almost a decade.
The regulators accused the London-based global bank of "systematic misconduct" which might have allowed terrorists and criminals to gain access to the country's banking system.
New York's Department of Financial Services threatened Standard Chartered with fines and possible suspension of its license to operate in the state, the hub of the US financial industry, if it could not explain the transactions which allegedly violated US sanctions on Iran.
The bank was ordered to appear before the department on August 15 "to explain these apparent violations of law and to demonstrate why SCB's license to operate in the State of New York should not be revoked."
"For almost ten years, SCB schemed with the Government of Iran and hid from regulators roughly 60 000 secret transactions, involving at least $250bn, and reaping SCB hundreds of millions of dollars in fees."
The transactions involved major state-owned Iranian banks including the country's central bank.
The regulator said Standard Chartered falsified records and obstructed oversight "in its evident zeal to make hundreds of millions of dollars at almost any cost."
The transactions "left the US financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes, and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity," it said.
The department said its investigation into the bank's also included evidence of possible illegal transactions with Libya, Myanmar and Sudan while those countries were under US sanctions.
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