By Jonathan Davies

Germany's second-largest bank Commerzbank has agreed a $1.45bn (£980m) settlement with US authorities after breaking economic sanctions against Iran and Sudan.

It also relates charges of money laundering on behalf of Japanese firm Olympus.

US regulators said Commzerbank "turned a blind eye" to its illegal activities.

Chief executive Martin Blessing said Commerzbank said it was taking the issues "very seriously" and said the bank would make "changes to our systems, training and personnel to address the deficiencies identified by US and New York authorities".

Announcing the penalty, Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services (DFS), said Commerzbank staff "sought to alter the Bank's transaction monitoring system so that it would create fewer 'red flag' alerts about potential misconduct".

Commerzbank was also ordered to fire four employees as part of the settlement.

Another release, by the US Attorney for the southern district of New York and the FBI, showed how Commerzbank employees tried to cover their tracks.

One back-office staff member emailed: "If for whatever reason CB [Commerzbank] New York inquires why our turnover has increase[d] so dramatically, under no circumstances may anyone mention that there is a connection to the clearing of Iranian banks!!!!!!!!!!!!!"