ND Expert: Standard Chartered Bank officials convicted themselves

Author: Shannon Chapla

Jimmy Gurule

New York’s financial regulator filed a report accusing Standard Chartered PLC of scheming with the Iranian government to hide more than $250 billion in illegal transactions, allowing the bank to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in fees. The New York State Department of Financial Services has threatened to revoke the license of Standard Chartered Bank, a U.S. unit of the London-based bank, to operate in the state, and at an Aug. 15 hearing, the bank will have to justify why it should be allowed to keep its New York banking license.

The order cites 30,000 pages of internal memos, emails and other records, which are damning for the bank, according to University of Notre Dame Professor of Law Jimmy Gurulé, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General and former Undersecretary for Enforcement for the U.S. Treasury Department.

“Standard Chartered Bank maintains that the Iranian financial transactions were lawful. However, in the documents cited in the complaint, senior bank officials expressed concern that engaging in such transactions could subject management in the U.S. and London ‘to personal reputational damages and/or serious criminal liability.’ At the upcoming hearing, hopefully Standard Chartered Bank officials will explain why they were concerned that these ‘lawful’ transactions could subject them to serious criminal liability.”

As the Treasury Department’s Undersecretary of Enforcement, Gurulé had oversight of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is responsible for enforcing U.S. economic sanctions programs. He says the Standard Chartered Bank case is a continuation of a pattern of corrupt bank officials purposely violating U.S. economic and trade sanctions in order to reap a profit from rogue regimes such as Iran. Other international banks that have been found to have violated U.S. economic sanctions include Lloyds Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse, ABN Amro and ING Bank.

“When is the U.S. Department of Justice going to hold bank officials accountable for money laundering and other serious financial crimes?” Gurulé wonders. “The failure of the U.S. Department of Justice to hold corrupt bank officials criminally responsible for serious violations of anti-money laundering laws and regulations has contributed to an environment of impunity. Bank officials who knowingly and purposely violate U.S. anti-money laundering laws and economic sanctions prohibiting U.S. and foreign banks operating in the U.S. from providing financial services to sanctioned countries such as Iran, Sudan and Syria, know that there is little chance that they will be held criminally liable for their crimes. Lax oversight by the U.S. federal regulators has also contributed to this crisis.”

An internationally known expert in the field of international criminal law, Gurulé’s areas of specialty include money laundering, terrorist financing and economic sanctions.

Contact: Jimmy Gurulé, 574-631-5917 or Gurule.1@nd.edu