Clearstream Banking securities firm paying $152M to settle US claims over Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON – Clearstream Banking SA, a division of a German securities exchange, has agreed to pay $152 million to settle U.S. government claims that it allowed Iran to skirt U.S. sanctions by providing the country access to the American banking system.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the settlement Thursday with Clearstream, the Luxembourg-based clearinghouse that is part of Deutsche Borse. Clearstream continued to channel Iranian government holdings of securities from the U.S. to Iran after telling U.S. regulators in late 2007 and early 2008 that it had decided to end business with Iranian clients, OFAC said.

Clearstream also agreed to maintain policies to prevent future violations.

“This is a severe penalty and we have taken actions to address the matter going forward,” Clearstream said in a statement. “We have significantly ramped up our compliance efforts.”

OFAC noted in its news release that it took Clearstream’s “strong remedial response” into consideration in reducing the settlement amount.

OFAC and other regulators have fined several big banks in recent years for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions law in transactions with Iran. OFAC Director Adam Szubin said in a statement that securities firms also need to take care not to violate U.S. sanctions in their use of bank accounts.