Standard Chartered, a British bank, has helped Iranian petrochemical companies circumvent international sanctions, the Times reported on Saturday.
The bank facilitated trades between a Chinese company and Iran's Arak Petrochemical and Bandar Imam Petrochemical, both sanctioned by the United States, the report said, citing leaked transactions data.
The bank’s services involved trades worth £2.1 million between 2020 and 2021, the report pointed out.
“We take our responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and are committed to adhering to the highest standards of compliance. This includes prohibiting any transaction involving Iran,” stressed a spokesman for Standard Chartered, further adding that it is not possible for the bank to comment on the services provided to clients.
Having assets of £820 billion, Standard Chartered mostly works with the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Earlier in the week, the Financial Times revealed that British front companies, covertly owned by a sanctioned Iranian petrochemicals firm, held accounts with the banks Santander and Lloyd’s. The front companies were located near Buckingham Palace.
The state-controlled Petrochemical Commercial Company (PCC), a central figure in the scheme, is accused by the US of raising substantial sums for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and collaborating with Russian intelligence to fund Iranian proxy militias. Both PCC and its UK subsidiary, PCC UK, have been subject to US sanctions since November 2018.
Alicia Kearns, chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee remarked: “For years I have repeatedly raised my concerns about our need to shut down cut-outs of the IRGC operating in the UK. This investigation proves once again that more needs to be done.”