November 28, 2018

Danske Bank charged with money laundering following investigation of Estonian branch

Danske Bank S/A announced that it has been preliminarily charged by the Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime (SØIK) with violations of the Danish Anti-Money Laundering Act for allegedly facilitating money laundering through non-resident accounts at the Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.  The bank has disclosed that it is also in dialogue with other international enforcement authorities, including the US.
The bank released the findings of its internal investigation into the Estonia branch in September, which followed a 2017 whistleblower report.  According to the findings, deficiencies in the bank’s governance and control systems allowed the use of the Estonia branch to conduct suspicious transactions, large volumes of transactions were conducted for non-resident customers in Estonia following the 2007 acquisition of Sampo Bank that never should have happened, and red flags were not raised to the group level of the organization.  The bank closed all non-resident accounts in Estonia in 2015.  In response to the findings, the bank stated that it would donate DKK 1.5 billion (approximately $229 million) to establish an independent foundation devoted to combating international financial crime, in addition to establishing a comprehensive AML program, enhancing governance and oversight in the Baltics, and strengthening compliance knowledge and culture throughout the organization.  

Danske Bank press release | Preliminary charge | Report on non-resident portfolio