Standard Chartered headquarters in London

Whistleblower: US Hid British Bank’s $100B Iran Terror Transactions

Tuesday, 06/04/2024

British bank Standard Chartered is accused of facilitating billions of dollars in transactions for funders of terrorist groups such as Hamas and al-Qaeda, according to new US court documents.

Former Standard Chartered executive turned whistleblower Julian Knight claims, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, that US authorities either overlooked or concealed "damning evidence" of the bank's involvement in "billions of dollars in banking transactions for Iran, numerous international terror groups, and front companies for those groups."

The court documents filed in New York by Knight allege that from 2008 to 2013, Standard Chartered conducted thousands of transactions worth over $100 billion, violating sanctions against Iran.

SCB has admitted to breaching sanctions against Iran and other countries twice, once in 2012 and again in 2019, reportedly paying fines totaling over $1.7 billion. However, according to the BBC, it has not admitted to conducting transactions for “terrorist” organizations.

In 2012, the British bank – one of the country’s oldest – avoided prosecution for money laundering after then-Chancellor George Osborne reportedly intervened secretly. Three months later, the US Department of Justice chose not to prosecute the bank. It is unclear if the British government was aware of these actions then.

Knight contends that the transactions conducted by SCB far exceeded those admitted to during the settlement of the criminal case in 2012, occurring well after the bank claimed to have ceased all Iranian operations in 2007.

According to the BBC, an independent expert identified $9.6bn of foreign exchange transactions with individuals and companies designated by the US government as funding “terror groups”, including Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.

The confidential bank spreadsheets that showed the transactions were handed to US authorities in 2012 by Knight and another whistleblower, who both claim that the US government agencies made false statements to a court to have their claim for a whistleblower’s reward dismissed.

Knight has asked the US Federal Court in New York to reinstate his claims, saying that the government had committed a “colossal fraud” on the court by denying he had provided “damning evidence” that the bank facilitated many billions of dollars in banking transactions for Iran.

The whistleblower claims that the US government either falsely stated that it conducted a thorough investigation into his claims or that it knew about the transactions he reported and lied to hide them. Knight believes the government's statements indicate that they were aware of the transactions and chose to conceal this information.

In its report, the BBC said US authorities investigating the bank successfully applied to have their case dismissed in 2019. US authorities argued the whistleblower’s allegations “did not lead to the discovery of any new … violations” and the court dismissed the case as “meritless”.

Standard Chartered has reportedly disputed the claims put forward by the whistleblowers, saying their previous allegations had been “thoroughly discredited” in the US.

An independent expert David Scantling, who reportedly has decades of CIA experience, contradicts this. In a court filing, Scantling says that over half a million "cloaked" transactions by SCB between 2008 and 2013 were easily recognizable using a simple technique, the BBC report said.

Separately, the Times reported earlier this year that SCB helped Iranian petrochemical companies circumvent international sanctions. The bank reportedly facilitated trades between a Chinese company and Iran's Arak Petrochemical and Bandar Imam Petrochemical, both sanctioned by the US, citing leaked transaction data.

More News