Sen. Levin: New York regulator showed 'backbone' in bank settlement

Nine days ago, the regulator blasted the bank in a lengthy public report, calling it a "rogue institution" that violated U.S. money-laundering laws by helping Iran avoid U.S. sanctions in tens of thousands of transactions through its New York branch, and suggested it could revoke the bank's charter to operate in New York.

The bank's actions "left the U.S. financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes, and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity," according to the regulator.

Standard Chartered said Monday it rejected the regulator's depiction of its business, just hours before reaching a settlement agreement. Federal regulators are still examining the bank's actions in independent investigations.

Levin has been one of Wall Street's harshest critics since the financial crisis, and as head of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation, helped author a lengthy report dissecting bad behavior leading up to the meltdown.

His praise for the New York regulator comes just days after he was expressing his disappointment over the Justice Department's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Goldman Sachs for misbehavior detailed in the report. The lengthy document blamed a wide group of individuals and entities for contributing to the meltdown, but also singled out Goldman for marketing risky investments to investors while betting heavily against them.

On Thursday, the department said it had no "viable basis" to bring criminal charges against the bank or its employees "based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time."

Levin maintained Friday that the bank's actions were "deceptive and immoral," even if "weak laws or weak enforcement" meant no criminal charges would be forthcoming.