Leading article: Hardly innocent until proven guilty

 

Share
Related Topics

Whether or not Standard Chartered is guilty of sanctions-busting, the US regulator that brought the charges has questions to answer about its conduct in the affair.

According to New York State's Superintendent of Financial Services, the British bank laundered $250bn of Iranian money through its subsidiary in the Big Apple, breaking the law and leaving the US "vulnerable to terrorism". Standard Chartered is, says Benjamin Lawsky's incendiary report, a "rogue institution" that has engaged in a "carefully planned deception".

If the charges stick, they are grave ones indeed. And if Mr Lawsky's threat to strip the bank of its licence is carried out, it would be a body blow to its Asia-focused, strongly international business model. Standard Chartered, however, tells a very different story, claiming that 99.9 per cent of the disputed transactions complied with the law, while those in breach were "small clerical errors" only. Efforts to scrub identifying marks were no conspiracy, it says, just normal practice.

Who to believe? At next week's formal hearing, much will turn on complex legal questions around sanction exemptions and so-called "U-turn" currency transfers. Clarity cannot come soon enough; and if the accusations stand up, Standard Chartered must, of course, answer for what would be serious wrongdoing.

But Mr Lawsky's unduly sensationalist approach has not only bitten a chunk out of the bank's value (even with yesterday's share price bounce) before any charges are proved. It has also prompted British bankers and politicians to talk darkly of "self-interested" attacks by US regulators on London's financial dominance. Such friction is not only unhelpful, it could easily have been avoided. Meanwhile, it is notable that the several other US watchdogs involved in the investigation have so far kept quiet.

The Governor of the Bank of England tried to calm the rhetoric yesterday. But the damage has already been done. It is up to Standard Chartered to prove its innocence. But it should not have had its reputation – and that of the City – so publicly shredded first.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Assistant

£12675 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...

Recruitment Genius: Lead Software Developer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler / Probate Assistant

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Telesales Executive - OTE £30,000

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This precious metal refining co...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A 'match' on Tinder  

Tinder may have inadvertently hit its self-destruct button by charging older users more

Nash Riggins
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn