Richard Holmes Standard Chartered
Richard Holmes heads the European arm of Standard CharteredGetty Images

The Europe chief executive of Standard Chartered has said that the British banking giant is trying to "figure out" what role it played in the Fifa corruption scandal.

Standard Chartered, HSBC and Barclays are all carrying out internal investigations into whether they cleared payments relating to alleged bribes.

Richard Holmes told IBTimes UK: "There's an accusation that some of the money moved through some international banks and our name was on the list, so we'll try and figure it out. At this point we can't say that we were involved at all. We're in the business of transferring money for clients and customers around the world, but whether anything crept into our bank or not, we will take a look at. We just don't know yet."

It would not be the first time Standard Chartered has run into regulatory trouble. The bank was forced to pay a $340m (£223.4m, €310.9m) fine to the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) in 2012 after it was accused of money laundering for Iranian clients.

Future direction

Earlier this year, the emerging markets focused bank reported a 30% drop in full-year profits to $4.24bn (£2.76bn, €3.87bn) and it has issued three profit warnings in the past 12 months. Group chief executive Peter Sands has been replaced by ex-JP Morgan banker Bill Winters and there has been speculation whether the focus may shift more towards Europe as a result.

Holmes said: "Europe is part of our existing strategy anyway. We're particularly good on the ground in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but Europe is China's biggest trading partner, Europe is Africa's biggest trading partner, so Europe is automatically a key part of that strategy. It's not just about having local businesses in these countries, it's the linkage to Europe that's so important."

He also said that Europe's flagging economies would lead to investors increasingly looking East and towards Africa for opportunities.

"Domestic Europe overall is not a pretty picture. A lot of the companies I talk to look at the growth in Asia and Africa, where there's GDP of 4%, 5%, 6% or 7 % versus 1% on a good day in Europe. So where are you going to try and do more business and what bank can connect you to Asia, Africa and Middle East more than us? So I would expect our business in Europe to increase in the coming years," he added.

Europe

After HSBC and Deutsche Bank said that they would consider quitting Britain ahead of the European referendum, Holmes said that being part of Europe is a "good thing".

He said: "The challenge is, what does Europe look like going forward? We'd all like to see some element of reform, but being part of it seems to be the right thing for business, jobs and growth. From a banking industry point of view, I'd like to see more of a common playing field so that the UK and Europe are not going in different directions, which has happened so far in things like structural reform, and we've got a different position on how we construct bonuses for bankers − there's a lot of different rules coming out from the UK and Brussels. It would be good to get more alignment on that."

Richard Holmes was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Standard Chartered Great City Race which takes place on Thursday 9 July (@GreatCityRace).