Prosecutors in Washington and New York City are reopening investigations into Standard Chartered, the giant British bank accused of laundering billions of dollars for Iran and lying to regulators about it, The New York Times reported.
Standard Chartered settled for $340 million with New York regulators in 2012, but prosecutors are now questioning whether the bank “failed to disclose the extent of its wrongdoing to the government, imperiling the bank’s earlier settlement.”
New York State’s banking regulator is also looking at past cases including a 2013 settlement with the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ over its supposed involvement in business with Iran, lawyers not authorized to speak publicly told the Times.
Benjamin M. Lawsky, the regulator, believes the bank “played down” its illegal activity and is negotiating a new settlement deal that would involve a penalty larger than the $250 million it paid in 2013. The consulting firm that advised the Bank of Tokyo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, is also under investigation as to whether or not it “watered down” a report on the bank’s involvement with Iran before sending it to regulators.
“When punishing banks,” said the Times, “prosecutors have favored so-called deferred-prosecution agreements, which suspend charges in exchange for the bank’s paying a fine and promising to behave.”
And even with the reopening of the cases, executives “are not expected to land in prison, nor are any problem banks in jeopardy of shutting down.”
Regulators can continue to impose fine after fine on these giant banks, but nothing is going to change until those in charge are really held responsible for their crimes. If someone were to rob a bank, they would more than likely face jail time. These white collar criminals should be treated no differently than every other thief.