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No legal assistance requested yet in $1.6 billion money laundering case

Danske Bank branch office in Latvia.
Danske Bank branch office in Latvia. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Commenting on a supposed $1.6 billion dollars of illicit Russian funds that moved through Estonian banks between 2011 and 2014, prosecutor Eve Olesk told BNS on Tuesday that Estonia had received no request for legal assistance in relation to the case.

“The Office of the Prosecutor General has received no requests for legal assistance from other countries,” Olesk said. “Judging from the existing information, I can confirm that theoretically, it is possible to open a criminal investigation also in Estonia, but that would mean parallel investigations, which as a rule we always try to avoid. Estonia is ready to offer all possible assistance to other countries, and if a request for legal assistance is received, we are ready to respond to it.”

The prosecutor’s office has received altogether more than 600 requests for legal assistance in 2016, and indictments concerning 26 cases of economic crime, including money laundering, were passed on to courts during the year. 16 cases resulted in court verdicts during 2016, and the rest of the cases are still being dealt with, Olesk said.

Postimees had reported earlier on Tuesday that an international group of investigative journalists in cooperation with independent Russian paper Novaja Gazeta had revealed how banks laundered $20.8 billion of Russian money, $1.6 billion of which through Estonia.

It said the three-year effort by the investigative journalism project Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which was assisted by Estonian daily Postimees, uncovered that banks in Estonia were used to pump vast amounts of money out of Russia as part of a scheme referred to as “Laundromat”.

A document leaked to the team investigating the money laundering scheme lists tens of thousands of companies, and reveals how Estonian accounts of little-known offshore companies were used to move sums that equal a sixth of the country’s state budget. The lion’s share of the money that passed through Estonia, $1.18 billion, were transferred to accounts at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, Postimees wrote.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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