Shares of Standard Chartered rose sharply in London on Wednesday after it reached a multi-million dollar deal with New York’s financial regulator over its breaking of US sanctions against Iran.
The British bank said it is also negotiating a collective settlement with other US authorities – which will likely cost it hundreds of millions more.
This first agreement – under which the bank will pay the equivalent of 276 million euros – removes the threat of it losing its New York state banking licence, which would have crippled its business in the US.
One major Standard Chartered shareholder said it appears the bank wanted to settle – rather than defend itself and haggle down the amount of the fine – because its share price had become destabilised.
The bank had called the accusations “disproportionate” after New York’s Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said Standard Chartered had hidden Iran-linked
transactions with a total value of $250 billion and refered to it as a “rogue institution” for breaking US sanctions.
The affair also took on a political dimension, with some British members of parliament suggesting it was part of a US effort to undermine London as a financial centre.
Lawsky drew criticism from other regulators for jumping ahead of an existing two-year probe, and the issue prompted debate over whether regulators themselves were getting out of control.
Britain’s finance minister George Osborne made a series of phone calls to his US counterpart last week expressing concern at the way details of the case came out.