WASHINGTON - Britain's Standard Charter Bank has agreed to more than $1 billion in fines and forfeited assets to the U.S. and New York state for violating U.S. sanctions against trade with Iran.
Federal and state prosecutors said Tuesday that between 2007 and 2011, the global financial institution processed about 9,500 financial transactions worth about $240 million through U.S. financial institutions to benefit Iranian entities.
In addition, U.S. authorities said an unnamed former bank employee in the United Arab Emirates pleaded guilty in Washington to conspiring to defraud the U.S. and to violate the trade sanctions.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said the case "sends a clear message to financial institutions and their employees: If you circumvent U.S. sanctions against rogue states like Iran — or assist those who do — you will pay a steep price."
He said that "when a global bank processes transactions through the U.S. financial system, its compliance program must be up to the task of detecting and preventing sanctions violations. And when it is not, banks have an obligation to identify, report and remediate any shortcomings."
Jessie Liu, a prosecutor in Washington, said the bank, the unnamed former employee and Mahmoud Reza Elyassi, an Iranian national and former bank customer in Dubai, "undermined the integrity of our financial system and harmed our national security by deliberately providing Iranians with coveted access to the U.S. economy."
Elyassi has been charged with two criminal counts linked to the conspiracy.
The indictment in the case said Elyassi and his co-conspirators used general trading companies in the UAE as fronts for a money exchange business in Iran.