Anything for a buck, even treason. "UK bank accused of Iran money laundering scheme," by Michael Gormley for the Associated Press, August 6 (thanks to all who sent this in):
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A British bank schemed with the Iranian government to launder $250 billion from 2001 to 2007, leaving the United States' financial system "vulnerable to terrorists," New York's financial regulator charged Monday.
In a statement released Monday night, Standard Chartered Bank said it "strongly rejects" and "contests" the New York regulators' portrayal of its transactions with Iranian banks. It said it voluntarily began reviewing the transactions since 2010 with U.S. regulators and the findings don't match the accusations leveled at the bank Monday.
State Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky signed an order that requires London-based Standard Chartered Bank to answer his questions following an investigation into "wire stripping," the practice of removing crucial identifiers in financial transactions.
The state agency called the bank a rogue institution and quoted one of its executives as saying: "You (expletive) Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we're not going to deal with Iranians."
The bank conspired with its Iranian clients to route nearly 60,000 different U.S. dollar payments through Standard Chartered's New York branch "after first stripping information from wire transfer messages used to identify sanctioned countries, individuals and entities," according to agency's order....
The state agency said the bank's actions "left the U.S. financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity."
The bank stripped information from the money transfers that is used to identify countries being sanctioned and replaced it with false entries or returned it to Iran for "wire stripping" and resubmission, according to the order.
The bank "developed various ploys that were all designed to generate a new payment message for the New York branch that was devoid of any reference to Iranian clients," according to the order....
Between 2004 and 2007, about half the period covered by the order, the department claims Standard Chartered hid from and lied about its Iranian transactions to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Before 2008, banks were allowed to transact some business with Iran, but only with full reporting and disclosure, the order states.
In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department stopped those transactions because it suspected they helped pay for Iran to develop nuclear weapons and finance terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah. The order states the bank has to provide information and answer to its questions to determine if any of its funding aided the groups or Iran's nuclear program....