StanChart agrees extension of US sanctions scrutiny

StanChart said its US deferred prosecution agreements will now end at the same time as the independent monitor’s oversight on July 28, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 November 2017
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StanChart agrees extension of US sanctions scrutiny

LONDON: Standard Chartered said it faces a further extension of its US deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) until July next year, in a sign it has yet to improve its sanctions compliance to the satisfaction of US authorities.
StanChart first entered into the agreements with the US Department of Justice and the New York County District Attorney’s Office in December 2012, accepting that it had broken laws by processing payments for sanctioned entities in countries including Iran, Burma, Sudan and Libya.
The bank avoided prosecution in exchange for a cash settlement of $327 million (SR1.22 billion) and an agreement with the US authorities to improve its sanctions compliance.
The DPAs were extended for a further three years in 2014, as StanChart sought to strengthen its controls under the scrutiny of an independent monitor tasked with reporting on its progress.
Reuters reported in September the likely extension of the bank’s US supervision, as sources at the bank said upgrading its technology worldwide to meet stringent US standards was proving a daunting task.
The monitor appointed to oversee StanChart’s settlement, Ellen Zimiles, global head of investigations at Navigant Consulting Inc. and a former prosecutor, has tested the software used by the bank and found that the bank’s processes missed millions of possible violations.
StanChart said on Thursday its DPA will now end at the same time as the independent monitor’s oversight on July 28, 2018.
“The agreement acknowledges that the Group has taken a number of steps and made significant progress to comply with the requirements of the DPA and enhance its sanctions compliance program, but that the program has not yet reached the standard required by the DPA,” it said.
In a deferred prosecution agreement a prosecutor agrees to grant amnesty in exchange for the defendant agreeing to fulfill certain requirements, and StanChart could face prosecution and further fines if it reoffends.
The bank is also being investigated over whether it continued to violate Iran-related sanctions after 2007, in violation of the deferred prosecution agreements between the bank and US state and federal prosecutors.
Thursday’s statement from the bank said it continues to cooperate with that investigation, but that more time is needed.
StanChart says it now spends more than a billion dollars a year on compliance, up more than 40 percent from 2014.


China praises positive steps in US trade row

Updated 21 May 2018
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China praises positive steps in US trade row

  • “Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold,’ as US President Donald Trump observed. Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk,”
  • “The Chinese are in a state of quiet glee knowing that Trump’s trade team backed off on sanctions without getting any real and meaningful concessions out of Beijing,”

BEIJING: Chinese state media on Monday praised a significant dialing back of trade tension with the US, saying China had stood its ground and the two countries had huge potential for win-win business cooperation.
A trade war was “on hold” after the world’s largest economies agreed to drop their tariff threats while they work on a wider trade agreement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.
The previous day, Beijing and Washington said they would keep talking about measures under which China would import more energy and agricultural commodities from the US to narrow the $335 billion annual US goods and services trade deficit with China.
The official China Daily said everyone could heave a sigh of relief at the ratcheting down of the rhetoric, and cited China’s chief negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, as saying the talks had proved to be “positive, pragmatic, constructive and productive.”
“Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold,’ as US President Donald Trump observed. Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk,” the English-language newspaper said in an editorial.
“That the US finally shared this willingness, means the two sides have successfully averted the head-on confrontation that at one point seemed inevitable,” it said.
During an initial round of talks this month in Beijing, the US demanded that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion. No dollar figure was cited in the countries’ joint statement on Saturday.
But some analysts in Beijing warned that trade tension would persist, and that China should prepare for more action on trade from the Trump administration.
“We should not be blindly optimistic,” Shi Yinhong, an expert on China-US relations at Renmin University in Beijing said at a forum on Sunday after the trade agreement was announced.
“Blind optimism (could lead to) China losing at this crossroads.”
Shi said China could accept a lower trade surplus and reduce its market entry barriers, but would not compromise on its industrial policy.
The ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily said that in the energy and agriculture sectors the two countries had obvious synergies, with the US having the capacity to satisfy the massive Chinese market.
“The ballast stone of Sino-US ties are an equal and mutually beneficial trade and business relationship. Its essence is win-win cooperation,” it said.
But China was not being forced to increase imports as a way to ward off the trade tensions or because the country had submitted to outside pressure, the newspaper said in a commentary.
China will naturally need to import more to satisfy demand from its increasingly affluent consumers, the newspaper wrote.
“Trade wars have no winners,” it added in the commentary, published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.
However, some people in US business groups, who had been pushing for tougher US policies to pressure China to reform market barriers, expressed frustration and disappointment, saying it would be hard for the administration to rebuild momentum to take on Chinese industrial policies.
James Zimmerman, a Beijing-based lawyer and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the Trump administration’s move to walk back its threatened trade actions was premature, and a “lost opportunity” for American companies, workers and consumers.
“The Chinese are in a state of quiet glee knowing that Trump’s trade team backed off on sanctions without getting any real and meaningful concessions out of Beijing,” Zimmerman said.