11 Jan 2009

Lloyds TSB pays $350 million to settle case

7:09 am on 11 January 2009

British bank Lloyds TSB has agreed to forfeit $US350 million to American authorities over charges it faked records so clients from Iran, Sudan and elsewhere could do business with the US banking system.

The actions violated US sanctions which blocked commerce with countries deemed a threat to the United States.

The US Justice Department and Manhattan District Attorney said on Friday the London-based bank had agreed to the forfeiture to settle charges stemming from the investigation.

The Justice Department said that from 1995 to 2007 Lloyds' offices in Britain and Dubai removed information such as customer names, bank names and addresses so wire transfers would not be flagged and blocked as improper by US financial institutions.

The department said this allowed more than $US350 million in transactions to be processed by US correspondent banks that might have otherwise been blocked or rejected.

About $US300 million was sent between the United States and Libya, about $US21 million between the United States and Sudan and about $US20 million between Libya and the United States, without scrutiny to ensure it was legal.

Asked if terrorists had received funds, acting assistant attorney general Matthew Friedrich said: "The point is we don't know and that's the entire purpose of that information being required in the first place."