WASHINGTON, United States – Standard Chartered Plc has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to United States and British authorities for conducting illegal financial transactions that violated sanctions against Zimbabwe and other countries, government authorities announced on Tuesday.
The settlement by the London-based bank is among the most severe imposed for sanctions violations, some of which occurred not long after Standard Chartered settled similar charges in 2012.
“The circumstances that led to today’s resolutions are completely unacceptable” and “not representative” of the bank today, Group Chief Executive Bill Winters said in a statement.
Tuesday’s settlement extends by two years a deferred prosecution agreement that Standard Chartered originally entered in 2012.
The violations relate to transactions approved by the bank with individuals and entities under sanctions from countries like Iran, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Syria, Sudan and Burma.
For the Zimbabwe violations, Standard Chartered will pay US$18 million in fines to US regulators. These involved 1,795 transactions worth close to US$77 million for state-owned firms and sanctioned individuals.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said: “Separately, between May 2009 and July 2013, SCB Zimbabwe processed transactions to or through the United States involving Zimbabwe-related Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) or entities owned 50 per cent or more, individually or in the aggregate, by one or more Zimbabwe-related SDNs.
“These transactions constituted apparent violations of the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations (ZSR), 31 C.F.R. Part 541. SCB will remit $18,016,283 to OFAC to settle civil liability relating to the apparent violations of the ZSR.”
The designated and/or blocked persons “maintained account relationships with SCB’s affiliate in Zimbabwe, and engaged in funds transfer or debit/credit card transactions whose net settlement transfers were sent to, and processed by SCB NY or other U.S. financial institutions,” OFAC said.
The United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001. Over 200 individuals and entities are listed under the sanctions regime, with standing asset seizure orders.