World Economy

US Probes 2 Law Firms

US Probes 2 Law FirmsUS Probes 2 Law Firms

US prosecutors are asking whether two law firms gave Standard Chartered Plc improper advice as they steered the bank through a sanctions-violations investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department has requested a review of e-mails and other documents related to the bank’s communications with New York-based Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and London-based Slaughter and May, according to the people familiar with the matter. The prosecutors haven’t accused the law firms of wrongdoing, Bloomberg reported.

In 2012, federal and New York state authorities penalized Standard Chartered $667 million to resolve allegations that the bank illegally helped move money through the US financial system for clients linked to sanctioned countries. The bank acknowledged past criminal conduct and said it had upgraded compliance efforts. But its troubles didn’t end there: US investigators reopened the probe in 2014, people familiar with the situation have said, to determine whether the bank had withheld evidence of Iran sanctions violations.

What prosecutors want to know now is whether the law firms improperly advised the London-based lender on the submission of certain information during the investigation that led to the 2012 settlement, the people said.