(Bloomberg) -- Standard Chartered Plc is facing about £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) worth of investor claims at a London trial over allegations it systematically breached Iranian sanctions to win new business. 

A London judge ruled on Friday that the trial, that will also probe accusations of bribery, should be split into two parts with the first scheduled for October 2026.

The bank was sued by hundreds of investors over the claims of widespread misconduct, which has so far cost the bank more than $1.7 billion in penalties. The lender is facing the claim after it told watchdogs that it processed hundreds of millions of dollars in clearing transactions between 2008 and 2014 through its Dubai offices on behalf of Iranian entities.

The case over alleged lack of shareholder disclosure is “without merit” and the bank “will continue to vigorously defend the claim,” a spokesperson for the bank said in an emailed statement. “We consider that the bank fully complied with its reporting and disclosure obligations throughout the relevant period.” 

The ruling follows a decision last year when the court had refused the bank’s request to strike out claims that the alleged sanctions violations and bribery was more systematic and extensive than it had previously admitted to US regulators in 2019. Earlier this year, the bank won permission to appeal the decision, which will be heard in May.

The plan, known to high-level officials as “Project Green,” allowed for an internal department in Dubai to “create fraudulent records” to disguise Iranian-connected clients.

(Updates with comments by Standard Chartered’s spokesperson in the fourth paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.