Money laundering scandal costs trust amongst Danske Bank customers

A scandal involving the laundering of millions of kroner via Danske Bank’s Estonian branch has led to an investigation in several countries as well as massive criticism from politicians and authorities.

Money laundering scandal costs trust amongst Danske Bank customers
File photo: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Ritzau Scanpix

The case has also caused a notable fall in customer satisfaction with the bank, an analysis has found.

A survey carried out by Voxmeter, who interviewed more than 50,000 customers in Denmark on their view of their primary bank in 2018, showed a drop in confidence in Danske, Denmark’s biggest lender.

The questions asked touched upon customer satisfaction with products, image and service.

Danske Bank scraped the bottom of the barrel, with its 4,712 points representing a steep slide down the list from last year, a decrease of 1,161 points.

“This is significant and is mainly due to poor image and lack of confidence in the bank’s ethical standards,” said Christian Stjer, CEO of Voxmeter.

Danske Bank’s manager for private customers Thomas Mitchell expressed his regret at the survey result.

“We can also see that customer satisfaction has taken a marked dip, especially over the summer in relation with the increased debate around this case. We are very sorry about this,” Mitchell said.

Danske Bank has apologized for offenses in Estonia and acknowledged that the bank has failed in its responsibility on all fronts. The bank now faces the uphill task of convincing customers that the necessary measures have been taken to correct its transgressions, Mitchell said.

“Something have spent a lot of energy on at our Danish branches is to go out and meet customers and invite them to what we call dialogue meetings about the Estonia case,” he said.

According to the Danske Bank manager, all customers receive an invitation to visit their local branch to get answers to any questions they may have regarding the money laundering case.

That measure aims to ensure that Danske Bank does not experience a massive customer loss such as in 2012-13, where around 100,000 customers left, partly due to the introduction of a fee for regular accounts.

Danske Bank lost 2,500 customers in the third-quarter of 2018.

Since then, customer loss has increased, Mitchell said, adding that he could not go into further detail before the bank issues its annual results on 1st February.

The top scoring bank in Voxmeter’s survey was Arbejdernes Landsbank, with a score of 7,618 points out of a possible 11, 000.

Arbejdernes Landsbank has taken first place in 10 of the 11 years that Voxmeter has conducted the survey.

READ MORE: The Local’s coverage of the Danske Bank money laundering case


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