Author: Niall Hearty 7 May 2021
Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers the bank’s plight.
Danske Bank has announced that authorities may request it to carry out further investigations into its scandal-hit Estonian branch.
The Danish bank is being investigated in a number of countries over the 200 billion euros in suspicious transactions that passed through the small Danske branch in Estonia from 2007 to 2015.
In 2020, Danske Bank completed a year-long internal investigation into activities at the Estonian branch – which has now been closed – and submitted it to authorities. But it has now said it may have to “undertake further internal investigation in 2021”.
The Danske Bank money laundering scandal came to light in 2017-2018, when the suspicious transactions from Estonia, Russia, Latvian and 150 other countries were identified as having passed through the branch. A number of employees of the bank were arrested by authorities, including the CEO and former finance director.
As a result of the scandal, the Danish Parliament increased penalties for money laundering offences eight-fold. These penalties became some of the harshest in Europe.
Yet despite the action that has already been carried out following the scandal, the authorities are clearly not content with developments so far. While the branch in Estonia is no longer functioning, Danske Bank is now in the unenviable position of waiting to see if it has to revisit its internal investigation.
Danske Bank will have been hoping that its lengthy investigation would bring an end to its self-assessment of its failings. It does not, for now at least, appear to be quite as clear-cut as that.
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