UK crime agency probes Danske Bank money laundering

Britain's National Crime Agency is probing the activities of UK-based companies with alleged links to a money laundering scandal at Denmark's Danske Bank, it said Friday.

UK crime agency probes Danske Bank money laundering
Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

“The NCA is aware of the use of UK registered companies in this case and has related on-going operational activity,” a spokeswoman said.

“The threat posed by the use of UK company structures as a route for money laundering is widely recognised and the NCA is working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use them in this way.”

Friday's news came one day after Denmark's financial watchdog relaunched its money laundering investigation into Danske, after the nation's largest lender said “a large part” of transactions totalling 200 billion euros ($235 billion) at its Estonian branch were “suspicious”.

The Financial Times reported Friday, citing people with knowledge of the UK probe, that the NCA's interest was on a UK-registered limited liability partnership or LLP.

UK corporate entities were the second biggest group, after Russians, among the about 15,000 non-resident customers at the Estonian branch, it added.

Of the accounts under investigation — which Danske closed in 2015 — 6,200 are considered suspicious and most of them have been brought to the attention of authorities.

The scandal engulfing Danske cost the lender's chief executive his job this week as investigators struggled to determine just how much dirty money transited through its Estonian subsidiary.

Danske itself said it could not be certain of the size of illegal sums involved.

More than 1.5 trillion Danish kroner (201 billion euros, $235 billion) transited through the Estonian subsidiary between 2007 and 2015, according to an outside law firm that carried out a probe for the bank.

READ MORE: The Local's coverage of the 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