Six charged with money laundering activity at former Danske Bank Estonia

Danske Bank's Estonian branch on Narva mnt in central Tallinn, as it appeared before its closure in 2019.
Danske Bank's Estonian branch on Narva mnt in central Tallinn, as it appeared before its closure in 2019. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The Prosecutor's Office charged six people with money laundering crimes Monday, in relation to the now-defunct Tallinn branch of Danske Bank.

According to the charge sheet, the former employees of the foreign banking unit of the Danske Bank Estonia branch – five men and one woman – together orchestrated large-scale money laundering at the Estonian branch of Danske in the years 2007 to 2015, in so doing intentionally concealing the real origins of the funds suspected criminal origin which were transferred to accounts at Danske.

Evidence gathered in pre-trial proceedings found defendants provided money laundering services to the tune of at least US$1.6 billion US dollars and additionally to the extent of €6 million.

State Prosecutor Maria Entsik stated that in the course of the pre-trial proceedings, the Central Criminal Police collected information relating to various preliminary crimes which involved international cooperation.

Eight pre-existing crimes were committed in the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Switzerland, the U.S. and Iran and were referenced in the indictment.

Entsik said: "According to the prosecutor's office, the indicted former employees of the foreign banking unit at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank (foreign client relationship managers) set up their own money laundering business, one which they hid from other structural units within the bank."

According to the charge sheet, clients were sold legal entities that concealed the real ownership, were advised how to hide the electronic trail of transfers from the bank, were offered a service for preparing documents for transfers for a fee, while making transit transactions, from person A to person B but without any real economic content were also enabled, with the aim of hiding the owner and origin of that money trail.

"According to the prosecutor's office, it was professional money laundering, Entsik added.

The state prosecutor added that in this case, the identification and seizure of nearly €10 million-worth of property has been achievable, property which, according to the indictment, the defendants earned in respect of their provision of money laundering services.

The proceedings were conducted by the Central Criminal Police. The first-tier Harju County Court has not yet set the time for the preliminary hearing.

Over €200 billion in potentially illicit funds have been estimated to have passed through Danske's Tallinn portals in the period in question. The branch was closed in 2019.


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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Andrew Whyte

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