In an interview with ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Tuesday night, American-born financier Bill Browder, who last week filed a criminal complaint against Danske Bank, said that the money laundered through the bank's Estonian branch was "absolutely" blood money.
"The background of the story is that my Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million tax rebate fraud committed by Russian government officials, and he was arrested, tortured and killed for exposing this fraud," Browder told ERR's Liisu Lass via video chat.
"After he was killed, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and his regime covered up the murder and exonerated everybody involved," he continued. "So to get justice for Sergei Magnitsky, we've been on an eight and a half-year investigation into who profited from this crime and who was involved in the money laundering, and this has led us to making 26 criminal complaints around the world, and there are now 15 live law enforcement investigations."
Browder expressed his appreciation for the decision by Estonia's Office of the Prosecutor General to launch an investigation into the money laundering on Tuesday.
"Estonia and Danske Bank have played a central role in this story," he said. "We've been trying for a number of years to get the Estonian prosecutor to prosecute people connected to this crime, and so we're quite happy that a serious and high-level investigation was now opened today."
According to Browder, more recent information very clearly points at the involvement of people at Danske's Estonian branch in the case.
"The level of information that we've been able to gather in the last six months is much more detailed than the information we've had in the past," he noted. "And that information points very clearly to the involvement of certain individuals inside the Estonian division of Danske Bank who looked after all these fictitious accounts that were involved in the money laundering."
The money to move through the bank's Estonian branch, he also noted explicitly, was blood money.
"The money that flowed through Danske Bank in Estonia is what we would absolutely refer to as blood money," Browder said. "The exposure of this money led to the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, and there are a number of other dead bodies connected to the Magnitsky case. So this is not a victimless crime. There are real victims — dead bodies, people who should still be alive today — because of this crime. And it's very much of the utmost importance that the Estonian authorities prosecute whoever facilitated this to the fullest extent of the law."
Based on § 394 of the Penal Code, Estonia's Office of the Prosecutor General on Tuesday morning launched a criminal investigation into potential money laundering connected to Danske Bank, whose Estonian branch may have been used to launder as much as €7 billion.
Editor: Aili Vahtla