Cowboy local regulator or the exposer of lax federal bureaucrats?
That's the key question being asked about New York banking regulator Benjamin Lawsky after his explosive charge that Standard Chartered bank abetted $250 billion of money-laundering transactions with Iran.
Standard Chartered won help Wednesday from Britain's central bank governor, who portrayed Lawsky as marching to his own tune, and marching out of step with federal regulators in Washington.
"One regulator, but not the others, has gone public while the investigation is still going on," the Bank of England's Mervyn King said at a news conference in London.
The US Treasury Department, in a letter responding to a request for clarification from British authorities, said it takes sanctions violations seriously.
The British bank lost over a quarter of its market value in 24 hours after Lawsky, the head of New York State's Department of Financial Services, threatened Monday to cancel Standard Chartered's state banking license, which is critical for dealing in dollars. Lawsky called Standard Chartered a "rogue institution" for breaking US sanctions against Iran.
The bank's shares bounced up 7.1 % on Wednesday.