NEW YORK  - Standard Chartered has settled allegations that it helped Iranian clients dodge US sanctions, announcing a fine of $340 million from a New York banking watchdog.

The “civil penalty” disclosed on Tuesday came amid allegations that the London-based bank hid 60,000 transactions with proscribed Iranian clients worth $250 billion over ten years.

The settlement was far from the worst-case scenario - investors had feared the bank could lose its New York license - and its shares surged over six percent at one point in Asian trade on Wednesday.

It closed up 3.56 percent in Hong Kong at HK$171.7, while in London morning trade it gained 2.92 percent to 1,410 pence.

But the stock is still considerably below its price of HK$188.10 on August 6, before New York regulators publicly accused the bank of helping Iranian clients.

The clients included the state-backed Central Bank of Iran and the National Bank of Iran, both accused by Washington of helping Tehran seek nuclear weapons and fund terrorism.

Under the terms of the settlement with New York’s Department of Financial Services, Standard Chartered agreed to house a government anti-laundering monitor for two years at its New York branch.

It will also appoint in-house auditors to check compliance with US sanctions.

According to the bank, which is a household name in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, a detailed agreement will come soon, adding “the group continues to engage constructively with the other relevant US authorities.” Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands was in New York at the time the deal was struck.

New York state’s Department of Financial Services had questioned whether Standard Chartered should lose its banking license, effectively cutting off access to the US market. “Standard Chartered had offered to settle for $5 million, so (it is) clearly an increase,” said Morningstar analyst Erin Davis.

Yet even at $340 million the fine would not have a major financial impact on the bank, Davis added. In the first half of this year it reported profits of $3.95 billion.