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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Regulators suspend Standard Chartered Bank's dollar exchange in New York for some clients

ALBANY, N.Y. - Standard Chartered Bank reached an agreement with New York regulators to pay a $300 million penalty and suspend dollar exchanges through its New York branch for high-risk retail business clients at its SCB Hong Kong subsidiary.

The Department of Financial Services said the order signed Tuesday followed the bank's failure to fix compliance problems against money laundering as required under a 2-year-old settlement. The independent monitor established under that settlement found the bank failed to detect many potentially high-risk transactions for further review, with a significant number also originating from branches in the United Arab Emirates.

Standard Chartered said it's continuing to fix its control issues and will work with "the small proportion" of clients affected in Hong Kong and the UAE to minimize disruption. "We are committed to compliance with the order and our continuing work with the monitor," spokesman Shaun Gamble said.

New York regulators reached a $340 million settlement with the British bank two years ago intended to settle allegations it schemed with the Iranian government to launder $250 billion from 2001 to 2007. Terms included installing the monitor for at least two years to evaluate the bank's risk controls for money laundering and corrective action.

"If a bank fails to live up to its commitments, there should be consequences," department Superintendent Ben Lawsky said Tuesday. "That is particularly true in an area as serious as anti-money-laundering compliance, which is vital to helping prevent terrorism and vile human rights abuses."

The U.S. imposes financial sanctions on political enemies to hinder their access to the global financial system.

Under Tuesday's agreement, the bank will provide a plan for further corrections within 30 days, continue the independent monitor for two more years and in the meantime require affiliates identify the name, address and country of origin for clients in its currency exchanges for U.S. dollars in amounts of $3,000 or more.

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