A British bank that is facing money laundering allegations from the New York State Department of Financial Services had a 27-page complaint filed against it this week. The bank, Standard Chartered, could have its state banking license stripped by the regulator, which is led by Benjamin Lawsky. The complaint alleges that the bank plotted with the government of Iran to hide $250 billion worth of transactions, which violates United States sanctions on Iran.
The bank claims that this never happened and even said that in January of 2010 it contacted the New York Federal Reserve Bank and the Treasury Department to let those agencies know that it was going to review its transactions internally. The bank said that it “waived its attorney-client and work product privileges to ensure that all the U.S. agencies would receive all relevant information.”
It was reported last week that Standard Chartered is working towards fixing the probe and could begin settlement talks by the end of this week. The case against the bank appears to be based on emails, which could be deemed privileged information. The emails and memos in the complaint seem to provide legal advice.
“It’s pretty infrequent,” a former federal prosecutor said in regards to attorney-client privilege. “You don’t want to waive it, because it opens the floodgates and exposes it to civil litigants.”