British bank cited for violating settlement

British banking giant Standard Chartered is a repeat offender, at least in the eyes of New York’s top financial regulator, which fined the bank $300 million and suspended its ability to convert currency because of violations of a money-laundering settlement.

On Tuesday, the New York Department of Financial Service said Standard Chartered had not flagged wire transfers from clients and locales involving a high risk of money laundering, running afoul of a 2012 agreement the bank has with the regulator. Back then, the bank paid $667 million to state and federal authorities for allegedly processing $250 billion in transactions for Iranian banks in violation of U.S. sanctions.

New problems at Standard Chartered surfaced in a recent review conducted by an independent monitor who identified high-risk transactions originating from Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. The monitor determined that the bank had an inadequate system in place to detect those problems, even though Standard Chartered had instituted new procedures in accord with the settlement. The bank, according to the monitor, did a poor job of auditing the system.

Tuesday’s order calls for Standard Chartered to hold off on converting foreign currency into U.S. dollars through its New York branch for retail business clients in Hong Kong. This “dollar clearing” is a critical step in transferring money to clients’ suppliers, processing loan payments and various other transactions.

Standard Chartered has agreed to cut ties with some small and medium-size business clients in the United Arab Emirates that are deemed high-risk. It will also be subject to two additional years of reviews by the monitor.

In a statement, the bank said it “accepts responsibility for and regrets the deficiencies in the anti-money laundering transaction surveillance system at its New York branch.” Standard Chartered said it has begun “extensive remediation efforts and is committed to completing these with utmost urgency.”

— Danielle Douglas

Ballmer departs Microsoft’s board

Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, has left the software company’s board to spend more time on his new sports project.

“I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” Ballmer said in a letter to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella that was made public by Microsoft on Tuesday. “The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately,” he wrote.

Ballmer, 58, paid an NBA-
record $2 billion for the Clippers. On Monday, he greeted several thousand fans gathered at the team’s Staples Center home with the trademark screams that punctuated employee meetings at Microsoft.

His exit marks the end of a 34-year association with Microsoft, which had a leading role in the personal computer revolution. Ballmer joined Bill Gates’s firm in 1980 when it was just a start-up in the Seattle suburbs, and he succeeded Gates as chief executive from 2000 until February.

As Gates has sold shares to fund his philanthropy, Ballmer has become the biggest individual shareholder in Microsoft, owning a 4 percent stake worth about $15 billion.

“I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock,” Ballmer said in his letter to Nadella. “I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.”

— Reuters


— From news services