Standard Chartered has been forced by US regulators to retract comments by its chairman in which he dismissed the bank's breaches of US sanctions to Iran as "clerical errors" and insisted the breaking of the rules was not a "wilful act".
Sir John Peace also apologised for the remarks, made earlier this month at its full-year results press conference. The bank was forced to issue a formal stock market announcement on Thursday by US regulators, which in total fined Standard Chartered £415m and reached deferred prosecution agreements with the bank to avoid further sanctions.
Written in the form of a signed letter by Peace, the chairman said that during the press conference: "I made certain statements that I very much regret and that were at best inaccurate."
He said questions were asked "concerning individual employee conduct and compensation" following the deferred prosecution agreements made with the US department of justice and the New York district attorney.
Peace had replied, when asked about bonuses for executives: "We had no wilful act to avoid sanctions; you know, mistakes are made – clerical errors – and we talked about last year a number of transactions which clearly were clerical errors or mistakes that were made.
"My statement that Standard Chartered 'had no wilful act to avoid sanctions' was wrong, and directly contradicts Standard Chartered's acceptance of responsibility in the deferred prosecution agreement and accompanying factual statement."
He was sitting along the chief executive, Peter Sands, and the finance director, Richard Meddings, when he made the remarks and their names are also contained in the statement as withdrawing the remarks.
"To be clear, Standard Chartered Bank unequivocally acknowledges and accepts responsibility, on behalf of the bank and its employees, for past knowing and wilful criminal conduct in violating US economic sanctions laws and regulations, and related New York criminal laws, as set out in the deferred prosecution agreement," Peace said.
"I, Mr Sands, Mr Meddings, and Standard Chartered Bank apologise for the statements I made to the contrary."
Sands was forced to cut short his summer holiday last year when the New York regulator published documents detailing the breaches of sanctions.
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