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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The U.S. Justice Department is stepping up its probes into big global banks. Banks that have ties to countries that aren’t so friendly with the United States — Cuban, Iran, Libya. The giant British bank Barclays is the latest to settle on the issue of handling secret transactions with those countries, agreeing to pay $300 million in fines.
Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is with us live to talk about those fines. Good morning, Stephen.
STEPHEN BEARD: Good morning, Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: How much do we know about this case?
BEARD: Barclays has admitted funneling up to $500 million into the U.S. banking system, from banks in prohibited countries, such as the ones you mentioned. Countries against which the U.S. or the international community have applied sanctions.
CHIOTAKIS: Did the banks, Stephen, know where the money was coming from?
BEARD: Yes. The Department of Justice accused Barclays of knowingly and willfully breaking sanctions, and the bank has accepted that. It’s agreed to pay this fine of $300 million and to tighten its procedures. Barclays, by the way, is very keen to keep in with the U.S. authorities, remember it bought a big chunk of Lehman Brothers and Barclays is now trying to establish a major presence on Wall Street.
CHIOTAKIS: I remember. I wonder, Stephen, how many other banks have been caught doing this?
BEARD: Well this certainly isn’t the first, I mean we’ve had Lloyds, another British bank, and also the Swiss bank Credit Suisse have both paid hefty sums to settle similar claims. Richard Hunter is with Stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown. He says this is all a result of the much closer attention the U.S. pays to international banking transactions following 9/11, and there could be other cases in the pipeline.
RICHARD HUNTER: In general terms, there has been a coordinated global effort to put a lid on terrorism, particularly through the financial system. So, on that basis, we could expect some more to come.
And especially if the transactions involve Iran. Analysts say Iran, because of its nuclear ambitions, is now the main focus of U.S. scrutiny.
CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard in London. Stephen, thanks.
BEARD: OK Steve.
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