Danske Bank, Denmark’s biggest lender, is the target of criminal probes in several countries over some 200 billion euros ($226 billion) in transfers that passed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, involving some 15,000 foreign clients, many Russian.
Copenhagen financial crime prosecutors filed preliminary charges against the bank in November.
“An international coalition of public pension funds, governmental entities, and asset managers have sued Danske Bank A/S, asserting fraud claims stemming from a massive Russian money-laundering scheme and multi-year cover-up by Denmark's largest bank and its senior leadership,” US law firm Grant & Eisenhofer, representing 169 plaintiffs from 19 countries, said in the statement.
“No one would have expected an elite, well-established European bank like Danske to be involved in money-laundering of any sort, let alone of the scale uncovered in this case,” Olav Haazen, a director at the law firm, was quoted as saying in the document.
The investors also accuse Danske Bank of a covering up the suspect operations.
Last December, Estonian authorities detained 10 former Danske employees on suspicion they had facilitated money laundering via non-resident clients.
Danske Bank said in February it was closing its operations in Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.