Bank boss says sorry for Iran claim

Standard CharteredStandard Chartered chairman Sir John Peace has made a humbling apology for wrongly claiming the bank had "no wilful" intention to breach US sanctions with Iran.

In an astonishing statement, Sir John admitted comments made in a press conference earlier this month were "both legally and factually incorrect" by contradicting the bank's acceptance of responsibility under its mammoth 667 million US dollar (£439 million) settlement last year.

He said: "I made certain statements that I very much regret and that were at best inaccurate."

Standard Chartered was branded a "rogue institution" after regulators claimed it exposed the US to terrorists and drug kingpins by hiding 250 billion US dollars (£166 billion) of transactions with Tehran.

Between January 2001 and 2010, the US financial watchdog claimed Standard moved 60,000 transactions through its New York branch that were subject to US economic sanctions, and then covered up the dealings.

Sir John's apology comes after he was asked in a press conference about the bank's decision to hand out bonuses to staff after last year's scandal.

He said at the time the bank "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".

In his latest statement, he said: "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."

Standard Chartered, which employs 89,000 people, paid out 1.4 billion dollars (£922 million) in bonuses for 2012 - down 7% on the previous year - after increasing annual profits by 1% to 6.9 billion dollars (£4.5 billion).