Whistleblower Accuses Standard Chartered of $100 Billion in Transactions for Terrorist Financing Activities

June 6, 2024

Standard Chartered, one of the biggest banks in the UK, faces accusations that it facilitated transactions totaling more than $100 (£78) billion for organizations linked to terrorist groups.

According to court documents, the bank is accused of carrying out these transactions from 2008 to 2013, breaching sanctions against Iran. Whistleblowers, including the former chief  Julain Knight, highlighted wrongdoing by Standard Chartered in 2012 by disclosing confidential bank documents to the US authorities as per BBC. However, the bank vehemently disputes these allegations labeling them as fabricated.

Despite the bank denying the whistleblowers’ allegations, new evidence suggests it has been heavily involved in illegal financial activities.

Whistleblowers Uncover Hidden Transactions

According to Knight, the U.S. government failed to track at least 500,000 separate transactions, including U.S. dollar and foreign currency exchange transactions involving the bank’s Iran-linked clients. Knight claimed the records were kept in 53 Microsoft Excel files that were submitted to the government, but officials from the FBI and other agencies were unable to examine them thoroughly.

An independent expert,  David Scantling, has identified $9.6bn of foreign exchange transactions He highlighted the gravity of the situation, stating,

“The newly extracted data included numerous Standard Chartered transactions with and on behalf of Iranian banks, Iranian companies, and Middle Eastern money exchanges, financing designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

According to the International Confederation of Journalists (ICIJ), the Whistleblower files showed that Standard Chartered continued to serve Iranian clients. Expert investigation revealed secret trading records, which showed large amounts of foreign exchange.

Past Sanctions Breaches

Standard Chartered’s alleged involvement in illicit transactions has drawn attention to its avoidance of prosecution in the past. The bank has twice admitted to violating sanctions against countries such as Iran – first in 2012 and then in 2019. They paid fines totaling more than $1.7 billion but refused to conduct transactions with “terrorist” organizations.

In 2012, amid accusations of falsifying transaction data to circumvent sanctions, the bank received intervention from Lord Cameron’s government. This intervention led to the US Department of Justice’s decision not to prosecute the bank. However, subsequent revelations suggest that the extent of the bank’s misconduct far exceeds previous admissions.