Danske Bank charged in money laundering case

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they had brought "preliminary charges" against Danske Bank, the Scandinavian country's biggest lender, which has been embroiled in a massive money-laundering scandal.

Danske Bank charged in money laundering case
Photo: Mads Joakim Rimer Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Copenhagen international financial crimes unit SØIK said its probe, launched in August, was now at an advanced stage that justified the move against the bank.

It was, however, “important to note that we are still at the beginning of our investigation”, unit chief Morten Niels Jakobsen said in a statement.

Investigators in Denmark, the United States, Belgium and Britain have been looking into Danske's Estonian unit activities between 2007 and 2015, with the focus on 15,000 non-resident clients, including many Russians.

Danske has acknowledged that much of the approximately 200 billion euros ($230 billion) that went through the branch during that period may need to be treated as suspicious in origin.

The Danish prosecutors are charging Danske Bank with violating money-laundering laws between February 2007 and January 2016.

The ongoing probe will also determine whether criminal charges should be brought against individual members of Danske's top management.

The bank's CEO Jesper Nielsen said the lender would help prosecutors.

“We will, of course, cooperate with SOIK and make ourselves and the knowledge we have available in relation to the ongoing investigation,” he said in a statement.

US ratings agency Moody's last month cut its long-term rating for Danske, saying the probe “has increased the probability that Danske will receive substantial financial fines”.

READ ALSO: More on 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