Bank boss insists ‘no grounds’ for revoking licence

Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands hit back at a New York regulator’s claims the bank broke US sanctions, and said he saw “no grounds” for revoking the lender’s licence.

Standard Chartered has fallen about 16% in London trading this week after New York regulator Benjamin Lawsky threatened to strip the London-based bank of its licence to operate in the state, alleging it processed $250bn of deals with Iranian banks subject to sanctions.

“We reject the position and portrayal of facts by the department of financial services,” Mr Sands told reporters, his first public comments since the regulator’s report on Monday.

“It would be disproportionate and wholly inconsistent with the actions of other US authorities in other sanctions matters” to revoke the bank’s New York licence, he said.

The dispute is becoming increasingly political. London mayor Boris Johnson has accused New York of seeking to damage its biggest competitor as a financial centre, while Bank of England governor Mervyn King criticised the regulator for failing to co-ordinate with its counterparts.

The loss of its New York licence would significantly damage Standard Chartered’s corporate banking model and could result in a 40% drop in earnings, said Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein Research in London.

Mr Sands said the probe has been “very damaging” to Standard Chartered’s brand, and denied there was anything wrong with the bank’s culture. He said none of the transactions reviewed by the bank were linked to terrorist organisations.

The lender has consulted lawyers and been advised that it may have a case for claiming reputational damage, the Financial Times reported. Standard Chartered is aware of the sensitivity involved in taking a militant stance towards its regulator, the paper said.

The bank might be asked to pay as much as $700m to resolve money-laundering allegations filed by Mr Lawsky, New York’s banking superintendent, after the department of financial services grew impatient with inaction by federal regulators, a person familiar with the case said.



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