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The headquarters of Deutsche Bank are pictured in Frankfurt.
Reuters/Ralph Orlowski
Another day, another bank fine.
FINANCIAL AND REPUTATION LOSS

Deutsche Bank is paying $258 million for moving money it shouldn’t have

By Melvin Backman

Deutsche Bank today (Nov. 4) joined Standard Chartered, HSBC, and BNP Paribas in paying big fines for providing financial services to enemies of the state.

Its US subsidiary settled charges by the Federal Reserve and the the New York Department of Financial Services over wiring a collective $11 billion in transactions on behalf of countries and entities subject to U.S. sanctions, including Iran, Libya, Syria, Burma, and Sudan between 1999 and 2006. It agreed to pay a total of $258 million to the two regulators.

As in other cases, bankers left a damning electronic paper trail:

  • “PLS DON’T MENTION THE NAME OF BANK SADERAT IRAN OR IRAN IN USA” (sic)
  • “THE NAME BANK MELLI OR MARKAZI SHOULD NOT BE MENTIONED . . . IMPORTANT: NO IRANIAN NAMES TO BE MENTIONED WHEN MAKING PAYMENT TO NEW YORK” (sic)
  • “As usual, let’s not revert to the client in writing due to the reputational risk involved if the e-mail goes to wrong places.  Someone should call [the client] and tell them orally and ensure that the conversation is not taped. . . . Let’s also keep this e-mail strictly on a ‘need-know’ basis, no need to spread the news in [Deutsche Bank’s Asian offices about] what we do under OFAC scenarios.”
  • The transactions in question “have to be treated with caution as…the payment gets released from the queue; there is a probability that the funds will be frozen by the Federal Reserve thereby causing financial and reputation loss for the Bank.”

Most of the employees involved don’t work for the bank anymore, and regulators said the six left must soon be terminated. The bank did not immediately comment on the nature of their current employment status, but a spokesman said in an email:  “We are pleased to have reached a resolution with the New York Department of Financial Services and the Federal Reserve. The conduct ceased several years ago, and since then we have terminated all business with parties from the countries involved.”