European Interest

Danske Bank shares fall as Estonia crisis deepens

Flickr/Ross G. Strachan Photography/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A view of Danske Bank, Copenhagen, Denmark.

A money laundering scandal centred on Danske Bank’s Estonian branch could be bigger than previously thought.

The Danish bank handled up to $30bn of Russian and ex-Soviet money through non-resident accounts via its Estonian branch in 2013 alone, according to an independent investigation.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the non-resident portfolio at the Estonian branch has been at the centre of allegations that the bank had flawed money laundering controls from 2007 to 2015, which has led to criminal investigations in both Denmark and Estonia.

A Danish newspaper report in July said that Danske laundered up to $8.3bn in Estonia in 2007-2015.

Danske Bank has admitted to flaws in its anti-money laundering controls in Estonia and has launched its own inquiry, the results of which are expected this month.

“The matter is very complex, and no conclusion as to the number of suspicious customers or transactions – or indeed the extent of potential money laundering – can be drawn from any individual pieces of information taken out of context,” the bank said in a statement.

Meanwhile, an article published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) online, noted that $30bn of Russian and ex-Soviet money reportedly passed through accounts of the troubled Estonian branch of Danske Bank.

“We are in the process of finalising reports, but as we have already communicated, it is clear that the issues related to the portfolio were bigger than we have previously anticipated,” Ole Andersen, the chairman of Danske Bank told the Financial Times. He said US$ 8.3 billion out of the 30 billion were suspicious.

Denmark’s Financial Supervisory Authority stated in a joint statement with the Estonian Financial Supervisory Authority that a criminal procedure is decided, and carried out by police and public prosecutors, with regard to money laundering and terrorist financing.


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