Estonian parliament to investigate Danske Bank money laundering scandal

The Estonian parliament is to discuss suspected money laundering activity at Denmark’s Danske Bank.

Estonian parliament to investigate Danske Bank money laundering scandal
File photo: Mads Joakim Rimer Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The issue will be on the agenda at an extraordinary meeting at the parliament in Tallinn in Tuesday, Ritzau reports.

A parliamentary justice committee has already summoned to the meeting a number of officials including Estonia’s justice minister Urmas Reinsalu, the head of the country’s financial regulator Kilvar Kessler and state prosecutor Lavly Perling.

“The Legal Committee wants to get more clarity on how it could have been possible to launder Russian criminal money in that way in an Estonian operating branch, [of Danske Bank, ed.],” committee chair Jaanus Karilaid told Reuters via email.

Karilaid added that the committee sought to find out who was responsible for what he termed a “scam” and how such cases could be avoided in the future.

He did not elaborate on what measures the parliamentary committee could take.

Danske Bank did not immediately comment on the developments at the Estonian parliament.

“But we do have a good and constructive dialogue with the authorities about the case, and if there are any questions that the authorities or politicians want further clarification on, we are available,” the bank’s lead press officer Kenni Leth said.

The news comes after businessman William Browder earlier this month reported Danske Bank to authorities in both Denmark and Estonia.

Browder is the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, which owns the Hermitage Fund, an activist fund that aims to expose corporate corruption.



Danish police drop money laundering case against Danske Bank directors

Denmark’s economic crime unit SØIK has dropped potential charges for money laundering against three leading former directors of Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, but investigation of the bank itself continues.

Danish police drop money laundering case against Danske Bank directors
File photo: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The three directors, Thomas Borgen, Henrik Ramlau-Hansen and Lars Stensgaard Mørch were investigated in relation to a scandal involving large-scale money laundering at the Estonian division of the bank.

Each of the three confirmed to newspaper Børsen that charges have been dropped.

In a written statement to media, SØIK said it had not uncovered “evidence that any individual has shown negligence to such an extent that it can be characterised as gross” and that the law had therefore not been broken.

“For an individual to be convicted under money laundering laws, they must have committed gross negligence. In this case we have conducted a vert comprehensive and thorough investigation with a number of investigative steps,” acting head of SØIK Per Flig also said in the statement.

The bank itself is still under investigation for possible breach of money laundering laws, however, Flig noted.

READ ALSO: US files lawsuit against scandal-hit Danske Bank

No individuals now remain under suspicion in the investigation, meaning SØIK has dropped cases against all leading bank executive who were suspected by police in March 2019.

Around 1,500 billion kroner from foreign customers flowed through the Estonian division of Danske Bank between 2007 and 2015, an investigation found.

A large proportion of that money is considered to be suspicious. The scandal resulted in Borgen’s resignation as CEO and the bank closed its Estonian branch in 2019.

READ ALSO: More on the Danske Bank money laundering scandal