Standard Chartered on Wednesday said its profit for the first-quarter was \"slightly down\" on year due to increased expenses and moderate growth. The London-based, Asia-focused lender said weak performances in Korea and Singapore offset double-digit income growth in Hong Kong and Africa, while group expenses grew by a \"low single digit percentage\". Consumer banking operating profit was down by a \"mid single digit percentage\" in the first quarter, with a double digit increase in loan impairments, when compared with the same period last year. Staff costs increased by a high single digit percentage with an increase of around 560 staff, said the bank, which does not release actual quarterly figures. \"The group had a very strong start to the year in January, but momentum slowed later in the quarter,\" the bank said in an interim management statement filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange. \"Overall the group\'s operating profit in the first quarter was slightly down on the first quarter of 2012,\" it said, adding that it had started the second quarter well. \"Standard Chartered has continued to deliver a resilient performance despite the impact of extraordinary monetary policies in the West and Japan on liquidity conditions across Asia and thus on margins,\" group chief executive Peter Sands said in the statement. The British lender said in March its net profit was flat at US$4.79 billion for 2012, compared to 4.75 billion in 2011, after it was hit by huge fines for violating US sanctions on Iran and other countries. The settlements \"dented our profit growth and damaged our reputation,\" Sands said in a statement at the time. US authorities said the bank had stripped messages on financial transfers routed through US banks of information that would show the beneficiaries were businesses and entities that fell under American sanctions. Standard Chartered agreed to pay US authorities the huge fines last year to settle charges it violated American sanctions, principally on Iran but also on Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.