Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
8 August 2012

StanChart: what’s to stop a regulatory body going rogue?

Still possible that the New York DFS allegations are untrue.

By Martha Gill

Whether true or not, the New York Department of Financial Service’s accusations have caused a whole lot of trouble for Standard Chartered, but the key point is that they still may not be true.

The accusations are fairly detailed, but are also unbacked by facts, highly unusual for this sort of announcement. The regulatory body will have to prove their allegations are true on August 15, but unfortunately for Stan Chart the markets operate on a “no smoke without fire” basis.

The company’s shares suffered their steepest one-day decline in several decades on Tuesday, dropping more than 16 per cent.The shares have bounced back slightly since then, but the damage has been done.

“This has been incredibly damaging,” analysts at Charles Stanley confirmed in a note. “It is ruining all the good work that [has been] done in recent years.”

If the accusations do turn out not to be true, StanChart is still left in pieces. How are regulatory authorities allowed to wreak this sort of havoc? (British MPs have already accused the New York DFS of a motivated attack, in pursuit of an anti-city agenda.)

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

As a spokesperson for the British Banking Authority said:

“There really isn’t anything that stops a regulatory authority from making accusations.”

Perhaps reassuringly, every part of this incident points to something quite unusual on the part of the New York DFS. Firstly the announcement itself completely sidesteps normal procedure. Most cases of this kind would first be compiled in full, the evidence fully collected and an opportunity  given to the company in question to defend themselves, before an announcement could then be made. The language used by the NY DFS also stands out. “Rogue institution”, as they dubbed StanChart, is just one example of the unusually inflammatory phrasing.