British bank StanChart is ‘making progress’ with US regulators following Iran scandal, finance chief says

Standard Chartered CFO: Had a very encouraging start to the yearStandard Chartered remains under U.S. supervision six years after accusations it breached Iran sanctions, but Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford told CNBC that the bank is making “good progress.”

In 2012, the New York State Department said the British lender hid $250 billion worth of transactions with the Iranian government. Following an agreement in the same year, where it reached a $340 million settlement, it has been under the care of an independent monitor to improve its money laundering prevention scheme.

Halford told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Wednesday that Standard Chartered is still being observed.

“We have got monitors in, we are making good progress, but these are very, very complex issues,” Halford said.

“We are dealing in many, many countries around the world … We have been noticed by the monitors (as) having made very good progress, it’s just we are not quite across the line yet.”

The agreement to remain under supervision has been extended twice and is currently due to expire in July.

Commodity exposure

In 2016, Standard Chartered said it will stop providing finance to parts of the jewelry industry as part of a broader review on exposure to riskier sectors of the market. Loans on diamonds only accounted for small percentage of the bank’s assets, but $400 million was reportedly lost on the sector with consumer demand falling and the price of diamonds dropping.

Speaking specifically about safeguards on the commodity markets, Halford said that the bank had “done a lot of work” having learned the lessons of what happened a couple of years ago.

“So the visibility across the business now of the level of exposure we are prepared to take to each individual sector is much, much heightened, the standards there are very, very closely scrutinized,” Halford said.

“The chances of something like that happening again are very, very low indeed,” he added.

Profits climb

Standard Chartered reported an increase of 20 percent in pre-tax profit Wednesday. The figure came in above analysts expectations, but income numbers disappointed some market players. As a result, the bank’s shares traded 1.8 percent lower Wednesday morning.

Pre-tax profit for the bank climbed to $1.26 billion in the first quarter, from $1.05 billion in the same period a year ago.