January 6, 2023

Danske Bank sentenced to three years’ probation and forfeiture of $2 billion for AML deficiencies

On January 5, 2023, Danske Bank A/S was formally sentenced in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York to three years’ probation (the term of the plea agreement) and the forfeiture of just over $2 billion for deficiencies in Danske Bank Estonia’s anti-money laundering compliance program between 2007 and 2015.  Danske Bank pleaded guilty on December 13, 2022 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud as part of a global settlement reached with the US Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Danish authorities, for enabling non-resident customers of its Estonia branch to engage in highly suspicious and potentially criminal transactions, some of which were processed through US banks.  While the sentence imposed the forfeiture of more than $2 billion, the bank received civil credits of $178 million for the monetary penalty paid to the SEC and more than $672 million for the criminal payment made to Danish authorities, resulting in the DOJ receiving a total of approximately $1.2 billion.

According to court documents, Danske Bank knew since at least February 2014 that the Estonia branch’s AML compliance program did not meet the standards of its parent entity and those of the international banking community. Because of these deficiencies, the bank made materially misleading statements about the state of the Estonia branch’s AML compliance program, transaction monitoring capabilities, and customers’ information, including their risk profiles. The DOJ reports that Danske Bank’s misconduct resulted in approximately $160 billion in transactions that were processed through US banks, between 2008 and 2016, on behalf of the Danske Bank Estonia’s high-risk, non-resident customers, including customers in Russia.

SDNY Docket Entry – Sentencing