How Sands fell from grace at Standard Chartered

Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:48pm EST
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By Steve Slater and Lawrence White

LONDON/HONG KONG (Reuters) - In summer 2012 Peter Sands was flying high as Standard Chartered Chief Executive, batting back questions on whether he was tempted to run Barclays or even the Bank of England.

Praised for steering a safe path through the financial crisis, the former McKinsey consultant had just delivered bumper half-year earnings to set his Asia-focused bank on course for a 10th straight year of record profits.

But days later, when Sands had gone on holiday, New York's bank regulator accused the bank of being a "rogue institution" that hid $250 billion in transactions tied to Iran and left the United States vulnerable to terrorists.

It was the start of a run of trouble that saw Sands ousted on Thursday following a rebellion by key shareholders.

Investors cited failures in strategy, execution and governance, leaving new CEO Bill Winters with a lot to do.

Investors have said Chairman John Peace needs to share the blame for Standard Chartered losing its sparkle, and he is leaving in 2016 once Winters has settled in.

Critics said Sands, 53, too often blamed external factors, such as changes in Korean law or tougher global regulations, and failed to restructure the bank quickly.

They said he was good at growing the bank, but failed to axe jobs and businesses when Asian growth stalled.   Continued...

Peter Sands speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu