In an interview with French television channel France24, President Kersti Kaljulaid said that both the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (Danish FSA) and Estonia's Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) made mistakes in the Danske Bank money laundering case.
"The Estonians had warned that this is going on and these warnings were not heeded," Kaljulaid said regarding suspicious transactions at Danske Bank's Estonian branch. "So it took longer than it should have taken us — both the Danish and the Estonian authorities — to end it, because there was a clear lack of fast cooperation. And I think what we should all learn from this is that it is not enough to just send a letter and accept that you were not taken seriously.
The president expressed hope that there will be future analyses which would allow banks to understand that even in the changing security environment and with changing money laundering rules, "if you abide by the basic principles of transparency and know-your-client, you will be safe."
The Danish FSA did not take notices from its Estonian counterpart regarding suspected money laundering at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank seriously and did not even bother to cooperate, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in a lengthy article on the subject published on Tuesday.
Despite their limited jurisdiction and resources, the Estonian regulators raised red flags, mailing about six letters to the Danish FSA between 2007 and 2014. The complaints became caustic as years went by.
According to WSJ, one of the letters from Estonia's FSA was described by a Danske compliance officer as "brutal... close to the worst I have ever read... and I have read some harsh letters."
In 2014, Estonian inspectors decided to search the head office of the Estonian branch of Danske and collected thousands of incriminating documents, even though they had still not received permission from Denmark to do so. They then sent Danske Bank a scathing, 340-page report listing lengthy violations at the Danske branch. The report was in Estonian. It was not translated into English or Danish for another three years, according to WSJ.
Editor: Aili Vahtla