British bank faces allegations of laundering money for Iran

The shares of Standard Chartered, a British-based bank, are falling after allegations that it has laundered over $250 billion for Iranian financial institutions. The New York State Department of Financial Services has investigated the bank over its operations in the state and accused the "rogue institution" of "scheming" with Iranian banks and corporations masking over ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

The shares of Standard Chartered, a British-based bank, are falling after allegations that it has laundered over $250 billion for Iranian financial institutions. The New York State Department of Financial Services has investigated the bank over its operations in the state and accused the "rogue institution" of "scheming" with Iranian banks and corporations masking over 60,000 transactions between 2001 and 2010. The U.S. government has highly restricted financial transactions with Iran since 1979. The bank regulator has also found evidence of illegal operations conducted by Standard Chartered with other countries under U.S. sanctions such as Myanmar, Libya, and Sudan. Standard Chartered has denied the allegations saying it "strongly rejects the position or portrayal of facts as set out in the order." The bank claims that 99.9 percent of its transactions followed regulations while $14 million did not. A formal hearing will be held on August 15 when the bank will be at risk of losing its license to operate in New York.

Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared on television for the first time in weeks, meeting with Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. Iran is Syria's closest ally, and Jalili stressed that only a "Syrian solution" would end the crisis. Iran claims the United States is responsible for the conflict in Syria, and for providing arms to "terrorist groups." Jalili also visited Damascus in efforts to secure the release of 48 Iranians abducted on Saturday. The meeting came a day after Syria's Prime Minister Riyad Hijab defected, the highest official to have left Assad's regime. On Monday, Syria's caretaker Prime Minister Omar Ghalawanji called an emergency cabinet meeting. Syria's information minister spoke to Syrian state news agency, SANA, saying that the flight of some officials wouldn't affect the state. Meanwhile the Syrian army is circling Aleppo appearing to be preparing for an assault to regain control of Syria's largest city. Opposition forces reported they were holding strong in the embattled Salaheddine district, but are running low on ammunition and can't get in reinforcements. MiG fighter jets reportedly hit a house killing two families when targeting a nearby school being used by opposition forces. The civilian death toll in Aleppo has been high and the humanitarian crisis has become increasingly more severe. 

The shares of Standard Chartered, a British-based bank, are falling after allegations that it has laundered over $250 billion for Iranian financial institutions. The New York State Department of Financial Services has investigated the bank over its operations in the state and accused the "rogue institution" of "scheming" with Iranian banks and corporations masking over 60,000 transactions between 2001 and 2010. The U.S. government has highly restricted financial transactions with Iran since 1979. The bank regulator has also found evidence of illegal operations conducted by Standard Chartered with other countries under U.S. sanctions such as Myanmar, Libya, and Sudan. Standard Chartered has denied the allegations saying it "strongly rejects the position or portrayal of facts as set out in the order." The bank claims that 99.9 percent of its transactions followed regulations while $14 million did not. A formal hearing will be held on August 15 when the bank will be at risk of losing its license to operate in New York.

Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared on television for the first time in weeks, meeting with Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Iran is Syria’s closest ally, and Jalili stressed that only a "Syrian solution" would end the crisis. Iran claims the United States is responsible for the conflict in Syria, and for providing arms to "terrorist groups." Jalili also visited Damascus in efforts to secure the release of 48 Iranians abducted on Saturday. The meeting came a day after Syria’s Prime Minister Riyad Hijab defected, the highest official to have left Assad’s regime. On Monday, Syria’s caretaker Prime Minister Omar Ghalawanji called an emergency cabinet meeting. Syria’s information minister spoke to Syrian state news agency, SANA, saying that the flight of some officials wouldn’t affect the state. Meanwhile the Syrian army is circling Aleppo appearing to be preparing for an assault to regain control of Syria’s largest city. Opposition forces reported they were holding strong in the embattled Salaheddine district, but are running low on ammunition and can’t get in reinforcements. MiG fighter jets reportedly hit a house killing two families when targeting a nearby school being used by opposition forces. The civilian death toll in Aleppo has been high and the humanitarian crisis has become increasingly more severe. 

Headlines  

  • Yemen’s president has issued a decree restructuring some units of the army in efforts to unify the military and control the power of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son.
  • Egypt has increased security along its border with Israel and is investigating an attack on a Sinai checkpoint and Israeli border crossing, pledging those responsible will "pay a high price."

Arguments & Analysis

The UAE: holding back the tide‘ (Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, OpenDemocracy)

"The arrest and detention of 54 political and human rights activists in the United Arab Emirates has thrown the spotlight on one of the most autocratic and least institutionalised Persian Gulf monarchies. Championed by their western security partners as an oasis of relative stability in a sea of regional upheaval, Gulf rulers have in reality been profoundly shaken by rising participatory demands and calls for political reform. Initial policy responses focused on intensifying the ‘politics of patronage’ by announcing massive welfare packages worth billions of dollars, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs for under- and unemployed nationals. However, these notably failed to quell dissenting voices or address the underlying socio-economic and political drivers of discontent. In all six Gulf States, rulers have instead turned to repression to compensate for the failure of redistributive measures to preserve their power and privileges."

Cairo’s new Cabinet proves how little has really changed‘ (Issandr El Amrani, The National)

"It is not clear exactly when Egypt’s revolution first wandered into a swamp, but there is no question that it is now there, with no clear way out. Last week’s appointments made by incoming prime minister, Hisham Qandil, to the first non-caretaker government since the January 2011 uprising, are a political confirmation of this."

Saudi Arabia’s Race Against Time‘ (David B. Ottaway, Woodrow Wilson Center)

"The overwhelming impression from a two-week visit to the kingdom is that the House of Saud finds itself in a tight race against time to head off a social explosion, made more likely by the current Arab Awakening, that could undermine its legitimacy and stability. Ironically, the threat stems partly from King Abdullah’s deliberate policy to stimulate reform by sending a new generation of Saudis abroad for training in the sciences, technology, and critical thinking-skills that his kingdom’s own educational system, dominated by ultra-conservative Wahhabi religious clerics, has failed to provide."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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