US regulators are investigating claims Deutsche Bank and other global banks funneled billions of dollars for Iran, Sudan and other sanctioned nations, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The probe is still in its very early stages, law enforcement officials told the Times, adding that Deutsche Bank was not believed to have moved funds on behalf of Iranian clients through its US operations after 2008.
In 2007, the bank decided that it would "not engage in new business with counterparties in countries such as Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea and to exit existing business to the extent legally possible," a spokesman told the newspaper.
The investigation of Deutsche Bank is among a series of cases against global financial firms since 2009 suggesting that financial firms often transferred money for Iranian banks and companies under a loophole in US policy that ended in 2008, the Times noted.
It said US prosecutors were concerned that a $340 million settlement between a New York banking watchdog and the London-based Standard Chartered bank would suggest that US authorities are divided or uncoordinated, dissuading foreign banks from cooperating.
But prosecutors have yet to find any money transfers that went to designated terrorists, drug cartels or individuals and companies owned or operated by countries under sanctions during their probe of Standard Chartered, which is still under investigation.
Over the past decade, the United States and allies have ramped up sanctions against Iranian banks, institutions and individuals in a bid to stop Iran's nuclear enrichment programs over concerns the Islamic republic is trying to develop a military nuclear capability under the guise of a civilian programme.