Estonia will get a cut of the $2 billion USD in damages paid out in the Danske Bank money laundering case, due to its close cooperation with the U.S. authorities. According to Estonian Minister of Justice Kalle Laanet (Reform), the amount Estonia receives could be $50 million USD.
"Both the attorney general and his colleagues stressed the close cooperation that has taken place during the Danske money laundering case. It has also been agreed in principle that they will give Estonia $50 million USD," Laanet, who met with US Attorney General Merrick Garland in Washington, told ERR. "The technicalities are currently being agreed upon and hopefully decisions will be finalized by the end of this year."
In response to a question about the sum of money the US is likely to give to Estonia, and on what basis that amount was arrived at, Laanet said he was still awaiting an answer.
"What the model was or what the basis was for calculating that exact amount, that kind of thing was agreed in the past," he said.
What other steps should the Estonian security agencies that cooperated with the U.S. Justice Department take in advance of the final decision arriving at the end of the year?
"At the moment, they haven't provided us with any tasks that we need to fulfil. We'll certainly ask them in due course if there's anything we can do to help with that decision, or if they want more information. However, at the moment they haven't set us any tasks, rather they have a set of national regulations, which they have to through," Laanet added.
The decision took a long time to arrive as this is the nature of the bureaucratic process in the U.S., Laanet said. "While we in Estonia sometimes take hours to make a decision, here sometimes decisions take not only months, but years."
Asked whether Estonia should be happy with the amount, Laanet said Estonia should be satisfied with everything that is being offered in the framework of this cooperation and accept it gratefully.
Cooperation with the U.S. on the Danske Bank money laundering investigation became a tense domestic political issue in Estonia, first during the Jüri Ratas (Center) government and then during Kaja Kallas' (Reform) first term in office.
Estonia cooperated closely with U.S. law enforcement authorities in the investigation into suspected money laundering at Danske Bank. However, the question of whether Estonia would receive a cut of the damages imposed in the U.S. became a contentious one.
Following a U.S. investigation, Danske Bank pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud through its now-defunct Estonian branch.
Danske Bank accepted a fine of more than $2 billion USD and also agreed to pay $413 million USD under a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Editor: Michael Cole