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Danske Bank seeking buyer for Estonian retail business

Danske Bank branch office in Tallinn.
Danske Bank branch office in Tallinn. Source: (Tairo Lutter/Postimees/Scanpix)

Danske Bank has begun searching for a buyer for its retail banking business in Estonia in the wake of revelations that it was used in a scheme to launder billions of dollars, according to a Danish report.

According to the report published by Danish business paper Borsen, the Estonian bank was used in a scheme to secretly channel billions of dollars out of Russia.

"We recently sold our Latvian and Lithuanian retail businesses to Swedbank; the retail banking unit of the Estonian branch is now up for sale too," Danske Bank spokesman Kenni Leth said according to the report carried by financial news website Finanswatch.

Earlier this week, an international group of investigative journalists published their findings on how banks laundered $20.8 billion of Russian money of allegedy illicit origin, nearly $1.6 billion of this through Estonia. A document leaked to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) team listed tens of thousands of companies and revealed how Estonian accounts of little-known offshore companies were used to move sums equaling one sixth of the country's state budget. The lion's share, or $1.18 billion, of the total moved through Estonia were transferred via accounts at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.

At the beginning of 2015, Danske Bank informed the public of its decision to restructure its commercial activities in the Baltics and focus on serving corporate and private banking clients. It had announced that, beginning June 1 of that year, Danske Bank would only enter into new credit agreements with companies and private banking clients.

The size of the credit portfolio of Danske Bank's Estonian branch is €900 million; deposits amount to €578 million. The bank has offices in four Estonian cities and towns — Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and Jõhvi — and operates more than 100 ATMs across the country.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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