Danske Bank has hired Jens Madsen, the former head of Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) and fraud squad, to assist the bank in its efforts to investigate a possible case of money laundering in the Estonian branch of the bank.
Madsen, who is currently working for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs fighting terrorism financing, will be responsible for the bank's Compliance Incident Management in handling the Azerbaijani money laundering case, Reuters reported.
"The hiring should be seen as part of the overall armament in the compliance area in Danske Bank, and it is clear that the first task will be to contribute to investigating the situation in Estonia before 2014," Anders Meinert, head of Danske Bank's group compliance, told Reuters.
Estonian and international media have reported that, according to an international journalistic investigation, transactions from Estonian banks to Azerbaijani companies were made in the amount of approximately $2.9 billion dollars between 2012-2014, during which money laundering and mediation of bribery may have taken place.
While a few dozen million dollars per year were transferred from Azerbaijan to non-residents in Estonia in the late 2000s, the sum jumped to approximately $800 million in 2012 and $1.7 billion in 2013.
Transactions from Estonia were made from accounts of businesses registered in the U.K., the owners of which found solace in tax havens in the Marshall Islands, Belize and the British Virgin Islands. Representatives of the companies formalizing the opening of the accounts with Danske Bank in Estonia were Azerbaijanis living in Baku and were not themselves the actual beneficiaries of the firms.
Azerbaijani president denies reports of money laundering
The press service of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has denied reports by foreign media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the use of shell companies by Azerbaijani authorities to launder $2.9 billion to European politicians in order to protect the interests of Azerbaijan.
"Neither the Azerbaijani president nor his family have anything to do with the aforementioned accusations," the press service said. "Attempts to involve the president and his family in these issues are groundless and have a provocative character."
According to the press service, American investor and business magnate George Soros and Armenian lobbying are behind the articles on the issue appearing in foreign media. The press service also asserted that the campaign against the Azerbaijani president is futile.
"We know that George Soros, who has the reputation of a fraud, forger, crook and liar, and his henchmen are behind everything aimed against Azerbaijan and its leadership," the representatives claimed. "Soros' dirty deeds should be seriously investigated."
Editor: Aili Vahtla