Singapore fines Standard Chartered entities $4.9 million for money laundering breaches

Standard Chartered said in 2016 that it was to close its trust operations in Guernsey and centralize that part of its business in Singapore. (Reuters)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Singapore fines Standard Chartered entities $4.9 million for money laundering breaches

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s central bank imposed penalties of S$5.2 million ($3.95 million) on Standard Chartered Bank (SCBC) and S$1.2 million on Standard Chartered Trust (Singapore) (SCTS) for breaching money laundering rules and terrorism financing safeguards.
In a statement on Monday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said the breaches occurred when trust accounts of SCBC’ customers were transferred from Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) to SCTS from December 2015 to January 2016.
“MAS requires financial institutions to adequately assess money laundering risks when deciding whether to accept customers. They should also have in place good systems and processes to monitor customer transactions,” said MAS Deputy Managing Director Ong Chong Tee.
The MAS and Guernsey’s Financial Services Commission had been looking into Standard Chartered’s movement of some assets, mainly of Indonesian clients in late 2015, just before the Channel Island adopted new global rules on exchanging tax information.
“The timing of the transfers raised questions of whether the clients were attempting to avoid their CRS reporting obligations. However, SCBC and SCTS did not adequately assess and mitigate against this risk factor, and also failed to file suspicious transaction reports in a timely manner,” MAS said.
In a statement, Standard Chartered conceded that it fell short of its own standards to mitigate risks but said it was taking action to rectify these deficiencies.
“We ourselves identified the issue, we recognized that we weren’t as diligent as we needed to be in the transfer of some trust assets from Guernsey to Singapore,” Standard Chartered’s CEO Bill Winters said at Credit Suisse’s annual Asia Investment Conference in Hong Kong on Monday. “We reported both our own shortcomings and also the action of our clients to the MAS.”
“The important thing ... is we are making investments necessary to make sure there is no repeat,” he said.
Standard Chartered said in 2016 that it was to close its trust operations in Guernsey and centralize that part of its business in Singapore.


French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

Updated 24 September 2018
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French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

PARIS: French state-owned bank Bpifrance has abandoned its plan to set up a mechanism to aid French companies trading with Iran, in the face of US sanctions against Tehran.
Earlier this year, the bank had said it was working on a project to finance French companies that wished to export goods to Iran despite US sanctions.
“It’s put on hold,” said Nicolas Dufourcq, Bpifrance’s chief executive. “Conditions are not met (...) Sanctions are punitive for companies.”
Bpifrance was working on establishing euro-denominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers of French goods and services. By structuring the financing through vehicles without any US link, Bpifrance thought it was possible to avoid the extraterritorial reach of US legislation.
Dufourcq’s latest comments show how the scope of the sanctions is making trade with Iran increasingly difficult for European companies.
The United States is renewing sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal forged in 2015 between Tehran and world powers. Washington reimposed some of the financial sanctions from Aug. 6, while those affecting Iran’s petroleum sector will come into force from Nov. 4.
Even though several European countries have said they are seeking to protect their companies from the sanctions, several major companies including oil company Total, Air France-KLM and British Airways have announced they would suspend activities in Iran.
German officials have in recent weeks advocated for the creation of an independent system for cross-border payments to make trade with Iran possible even with the US sanctions.
European Union diplomats have said US President Donald Trump’s positions on trade and on Iran were fueling a rethink about the EU’s dependency on the US financial system.
However, European countries appear to be struggling to find or agree on effective options to tackle the issue.