Denmark announces probe against Danske Bank over money laundering

Denmark’s state prosecutor for Special Financial and International Crime (SØIK) announced on Monday a criminal investigation into potential money-laundering activities at the Estonian section of Danske Bank.

Denmark announces probe against Danske Bank over money laundering
File photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

The investigation relates to transactions that may be connected to money laundering activities involving billions of kroner passing through the bank, the authority confirmed in a press statement.

Last week, Estonia announced its own investigation into the matter after businessman William Browder previously filed an official complaint against Danske Bank with authorities in both Denmark and Estonia.

“Due to the serious nature of this case, we have followed this case closely over a long period of time but, for good reasons, have held our cards close to our chest. We have now reached a stage where I can confirm that we at SØIK have opened an investigation into whether Denmark can prosecute Danske Bank for breaching money laundering laws,” state prosecutor Morten Niels Jakobsen of SØIK said via a press statement.

“This case has long been a high priority internally,” Jakobsen added.

The state prosecutor also confirmed that a number of official complaints against Danske Bank had been filed with the police in relation to the case.

SØIK has already received information from banking regulator Finanstilsynet as well as international partners, it said.

“We are very concerned with leaving no stone unturned in this case. It is too early to say whether we will press charges, and the final decision rests with the courts. But in general, I can say that money laundering has a very damaging effect on our society,” Jakobsen said in the press statement.

No date has been given for the expected conclusion of the investigation.

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.

READ ALSO: Estonian parliament to investigate Danske Bank money laundering scandal


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