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Amount of money laundered via Danske Bank Estonia could be €7 billion

Danske Bank logo.
Danske Bank logo. Source: Jens Noergaard Larsen/Scanpix Denmark/Reuters

As much as €7 billion in laundered money may have gone through Danske Bank's Estonian operations, it has been reported.

If this is the case, it would constitute one of the largest known money laundering cases in Europe, according to Bloomberg.

Suspicions of money laundering via the Estonian branch of Danske had been raised before, it is reported, but the estimated figure is around twice that previously thought, according to Danish daily Berlingske and confirmed by Bloomberg.

It represents roughly a third of Danske's total market value, which is almost 3% of Denmark's total GDP, and up to a third of that of Estonia.

Following the latest allegations, Danske's head of group compliance Anders Meinert Jørgensen, stated that "it is too soon to draw any conclusions about the extent of the potential money laundering in Estonia."

"This is the reason why we have not ourselves published figures or commented on speculations about potential amounts,'' he went on.

''On several occasions, however, we have said that the extent [of the suspected money laundering] seems to be somewhat larger than previously estimated," Mr. Jorgenson continued.

Ongoing investigations

Danske Bank announced last September that it had widened its ongoing investigation into customers and transactions taking place via its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

Danske hired Jens Madsen, former head of Denmark's intelligence agency and fraud squad, to help the bank in its effort to investigate the potential money laundering cases at its Estonian branch.

The bank had already been placed under investigation by the High Court of Paris in October 2017 in relation to suspected money laundering concerning transactions carried out by customers at Danske Bank Estonia in the years 2008-2011.

According to Berlingske, the investigation launched by French authorities into the activities is linked to the case of Russian lawyer and tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who died in police custody in Russia in 2009.

Danske Bank announced at the end of April 2018 that it is to cease serving local business and private banking customers in the Baltic states. The group said that the move was in line with its strategy of focussing exclusively on supporting subsidiaries of Nordic customers and those global corporates "with a significant Nordic footprint."

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS

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