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Lawsky affair rekindles regulatory arbitrage risk

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Two years ago, federal financial overseers and the New York Banking authority reached memorandum of understanding that they would not jump ahead of the other on criminal and civil actions. Benjamin Lawsky, New York state superintendent of Financial Services, did the exact opposite last week when he made Standard Chartered pay $340 million to settle allegations that it conducted illegal Iranian money transfers. The purpose of the memorandum is to help keep banks from getting around regulations by exploiting rivalries between watchdogs. Some are now wondering whether Lawsky’s swift action was that of a hero or that of a rogue.