Citing a data leak, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) reported that billions of euros from suspicious sources have been moved through the Baltic branches of Nordea and Norway's DNB banks.
According to Yle's information, at least part of the money moved is tied to money laundering, i.e. the attempt to legalize criminally obtained money. At least €3.9 billion from suspect sources has been moved via the two Nordic banks.
The banks' internal investigation reports were leaked, according to which suspect money transfers were connected to Nordea branches in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as to the Tallinn-headquartered Luminor Bank, which was established by Nordea and DNB in 2017. Luminor's internal investigation report also raised doubts that in two instances, a bank employee has been involved in money laundering.
Luminor's internal documents were handed over to global investigative journalist consortium Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), of which Yle investigative journalism unit MOT and three Baltic publications are members.
Nordea turned down Yle's request for an interview, but then emailed the Finnish broadcaster a statement in which it confirmed that two audits involving external participation have been conducted regarding the bank's activity in the Baltic countries, neither of which turned up shortcomings in the bank's prior activities in the region.
The Helsinki-headquartered bank also declined to comment regarding Luminor, confirming that it had sold its majority stake in the bank, due to which anything going on at Luminor was no longer relevant to Nordea. Bank representatives did stress that Nordea does not condone either current or previous use of the bank for money laundering purposes.
According to Luminor, suspicious bank transfers have been reported to the authorities. The bank has not provided Yle with any further information, however, as the law allegedly does not permit them to do so. DNB has likewise not commented regarding the content of its report.
In October 2018, a month before Luminor's internal investigation began, Caspar von Koskull, then CEO of Nordea Bank, reported that the bank did not have any problems with money laundering in the Baltics.
In its article, Yle quoted Luminor ex-CEO Erkki Raasuke's interview to Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) in which he said that the checks conducted prior to the establishment of the new bank were superficial.
Editor: Aili Vahtla