Ten arrested in Estonia in Danske Bank money laundering case

Estonian authorities have arrested ten people in connection with money laundering through the Tallinn branch of Danske Bank, Denmark’s biggest lender.

Ten arrested in Estonia in Danske Bank money laundering case
The Danske Bank Estonian branch in Tallinn. File photo: INTS KALNINS/Ritzau Scanpix)

The prosecution authority in the Baltic country confirmed the arrests at a press meeting on Wednesday. More arrests are expected in the case, the authority also said.

The arrested individuals are thought to be former customer advisors with the bank who were hired to help prevent money laundering, Ritzau reports.

Authorities in Denmark, Estonia, the United Kingdom and the United States are all investigating the scandal, which was originally uncovered by the Berlingske newspaper in 2017.

Investigators have been looking into activities at Danske Bank’s Estonian unit between 2007 and 2015.

Last month, preliminary charges were brought against the bank by Danish authorities.

The Danish bank has acknowledged in an internal report that much of the approximately 1,500 billion kroner (200 billion euros) that went through the branch during the period may need to be treated as suspicious in origin.

The report also concluded that several senior figures at the bank may have ignored warnings of potential wrongdoing.

The Estonian branch gave several reassurances to the bank’s leadership that it was actively working to prevent money laundering.

Law firm Bruun & Hjejle has investigated over 100 people connected to the Estonian branch as part of the internal report, which was published on September 19th. The report looked at employees and agents connected to the bank who were tasked with finding potential clients. 42 of these individuals were found in the report to be suspicious.

The internal report resulted in reports against eight former Danske Bank employees being filed with Estonian police.

The suspicious activity conducted by the eight was serious enough to be potentially illegal, the law firm tasked with the report found.

It is currently unclear whether any or all of those eight people are the same as those confirmed on Wednesday to have been arrested.

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