Germany's leading bank Deutsche Bank has decided to suspend correspondent banking services to Estonian banks and is cutting off access to dollar-clearing facilities for them, following a previous announcement that it would do the same with Latvian banks.
"Deutsche Bank's policy regarding Estonia and Latvia does not differ," Margus Normak, a member of Versobank, told BNS on Monday evening. According to him, even if one big provider disappears, Versobank will cntinue offering dollar payments through other correspndent banks.
After Deutsche Bank decided not to offer the service anymore, making dollar payments has become more inconvenient as there is now no very large contra agent that is able to deliver payments everywhere, Normk said. "Price changes will come later," he added.
Nonetheless, Versobank is able to continue making dollar payments. "One can never rely on just one service provider and we have never one that," he explained. "The only difference is what the alterative channels are. Deutsche Bank is very big, but it is not the only one."
Kilvar Kessler, head of the Financial Supervision Authority, told BNS that the financial watchdog is aware of what is happening in banks but without their permission, he could not comment on the subject. "I am forbidden by law to share information," he explained. He said, however, that banks have alwas had alternative plans for handling different risks and banks usually have several providers of correspondent services.
Eesti Meedia risk manager Erki Haamer, who previously worked as risk manager for Baltic banking at the Finnish OP Bank, told BNS that Deutsche Bank leaving the market should not have a big impact on bigger banks as they can always use their parent banks as correspondents and hteir contra correspondents.
According to risk manager of Eesti Meedia, Erki Haamer, who previously worked as risk manager of Baltic banking at the Finnish OP bank, told BNS that Deutsche Bank leaving the market should not have a big impact on bigger banks because they can always use their parent banks as correspondents and their contra correspondents.
Russian money laundered through Estonia in USD
An international group of investigative journalists at the end of March published their findings on how banks laundered $20.8 billion of Russian money, allegedly of illicit origin. Of this total, nearly $1.6 billion was laundered 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 a sixth of the country's annual state budget. The lion's share of the $1.6 billion, or $1.18 billion, moved through Estonia was 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 servicing corporate and private banking clients. It announced that beginning June 1 that year, Danske Bank would only enter into new credit agreements with companies and private banking clients.
Deutsche Bank posted €1.4 billion in losses last year, marking the second consecutive year that the bank had sustained losses. The bank has also recently been hit with large fines as well; in January, for example, New York and British authorities imposed a fine of $630 million on the bank for its inability to prevent money-laundering in Russia.
Editor: Aili Vahtla