The Congressman responsible for writing many of the U.S. sanctions against Iran lashed out on CNBC about London-based Standard Chartered’s business with the Islamic Republic and the negative reaction from Britain to the impact of U.S. sanctions on British banks.
“I think London should be more interested not in an attack from New York but by an attack from Tehran,” Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
Standard Chartered is the second British bank this summer to stand accused of doing business with Iran. HSBC found itself in hot water after U.S. authorities found it didn’t have proper safeguards in place to prevent that bank from laundering Iranian money.
New York’s Department of Financial Services has suggested it could take away Standard Chartered’s ability to operate in the state if the bank is found guilty of doing business with Iran.
“This is about deterring terrorists and those who would act with them to try to clean up money in to foreign currencies such as the U.S. dollar that Iran desperately needs," Ackerman said. "If they pulled the license, if these charges prove true, it wouldn’t be severe enough.”
“Speaking as a New Yorker — not just an American, but specifically as a New Yorker — there’s an issue of terrorism here,” Ackerman said, adding that Iran is “the number one rogue terrorist state and we have to look at this for the seriousness that it presents.”
Shares of Standard Chartered plummeted Tuesday after news broke that New York’s Department of Financial Services was considering pulling the bank’s license but the stock recovered somewhat in trading today. (Click here for the latest quotes on Standard Chartered.)
While other banks have been accused of doing business with Iran, none of those banks have had their licenses pulled so far. Diplomatic sources pushing for tighter enforcement of sanctions against the Islamic Republic say if banking licenses start being suspended or pulled, that would be more likely to get the banking industry’s attention than fines alone.
-By CNBC's Jason Gewirtz