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StanChart works on joint deal with us agencies
Negotiations accelerate with other agencies after NY deal; Bank plans collective deal; Slump in share price had pushed bank to strike deal; Role of regulators called into question by shareholders; Shares rise 4.7 percent in London on Tuesday
August 15, 2012 5:08 by Reuters
Standard Chartered is pursuing a collective settlement with other U.S. authorities after speedily agreeing to pay $340 million to New York’s financial regulator, which broke ranks with early revelations that the bank hid banned Iranian transactions.
Chief Executive Peter Sands, who cut short his holiday in Canada last week to deal with the affair, remains in the United States as the bank continues talks with other agencies to agree a comprehensive deal that removes lingering uncertainty.
With the New York settlement agreed subject to formalities, Standard Chartered’s U.S. lawyers Sullivan & Cromwell will look to accelerate talks with other agencies to enable the bank to draw a line under an episode that has left it with lasting dam age to its reputation.
“Negotiations are going on between the other agencies, and we are talking to them. It is safe to assume there will now be a collective agreement,” the spokesman said, declining to put a timeframe on the process.
The bank is still the subject of probes by the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Justice Department and New York prosecutors.
Shares in Standard Chartered were up 4. 7 percent at 1,4 35.4 pence at 1 105 GMT, still 8 percent below their value prior to accusations being made against the bank on Aug. 6 by New York’s Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky.
Lawsky said Standard Chartered had hidden Iran-linked transactions with a total value of $250 billion and called it a “rogue institution” for breaking U.S. sanctions.
That prompted a robust defence from Sands against what he called Lawsky’s “disproportionate” allegations, but the bank’s shares lost over 30 percent of their value in 24 hours, ramping up the pressure on Standard Chartered to strike a deal.
“I think Standard Chartered wanted to settle because the share price had become destabilised,” said one of the bank’s 30 biggest investors. “Prior to that, I think they believed they had good legal grounds to resist a settlement of say under $200 million on the basis of the history of these cases.”
The affair also took on a political dimension, with some British members of parliament suggesting it was part of a U.S. effort to undermine London as a financial centre.
Lawsky drew criticism from other regulators for jumping ahead of an existing t wo-year probe, a nd 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 U.S. counterpart last week expressing concern at the way details of the case came out. Jo hn Mann, a member of parliament’s finance committee said the affair was part of a “political onslaught” in the U.S. against British banks.
Sands flew to New York on Sunday to take personal control of the negotiations ahead of a planned hearing with New York on Wednesday which has now been adjourned pending formal completion of the settlement.
Monday’s settlement offered some relief to shareholders, but investors were quick to point out that Standard Chartered still had some way to go before closing the most regrettable chapter in its history.
“Don’t forget about the other half of the fine – they haven’t settled with the DoJ/OFAC yet,” one of the bank’s biggest 30 investors told Reuters, estimating a second financial hit of around the same size.
Shareholders remain broadly supportive of Sands.
“I don’t think Peter Sands’s reputation has been damaged much by the affair. The fact that his robust defence doesn’t quite gel with the size of the fine would be the only real concern,” said one of the bank’s biggest 40 shareholders.